DEGC brings back Green Grocer Project to help open more grocery stores in Detroit

What’s happening: Efforts to improve Detroit residents’ access to fresh and healthy groceries were recently bolstered with the news that the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation (DEGC) is reviving the Green Grocer Project, which first ran from 2010 through 2017. The program will offer a mix of grants, technical assistance, and, later this year, loan financing to entrepreneurs seeking to open small-format grocery stores in underserved neighborhoods throughout the city.

What it is: The Green Grocer Project (GGP) makes available grants of up to $25,000 for businesses and entrepreneurs looking to open small-format grocery stores in Detroit. Successful applicants will also receive technical assistance in market research, store design, supplier relationships, and digital literacy training. At an unspecified date later this year, loan financing will become available through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Community Development Block Grant.

Why it’s important: “With food insecurity at 69% in Detroit, and with Detroit having previously been considered a food desert; grocery stores are absolutely vital!” reads a statement from Detroit City Councilman At-Large Coleman A. Young II. “The DEGC Green Grocer Project is the most effective program in moving toward achieving food security and Detroit becoming a food oasis neighborhood by neighborhood, community by community, and block by block until we have achieved food security for all Detroiters.”

What to expect: Those "registered for-profit business with a Detroit address in good standing with the State of Michigan and City of Detroit" will be considered for the program. Per the DEGC, projects eligible for assistance include “small format specialty stores (1,500 – 5,000 sq. ft.) that increase groceries and fresh foods to over 15% of selling space; mixed market community stores (3,000 – 15,000 sq. ft.) that increase fresh produce, meat, dairy, specialty, organic or other alternatively sourced product; new Construction (over 10,000 sq. ft) with fresh produce, meat and dairy; and alternative format stores with a preponderance of fresh food."

The Green Grocer Project intends to assist at least eight small grocery store projects over the next two years. Applications are currently open and awards will be disbursed on a rolling basis, more information of which is available via the DEGC website.

What they’re saying: “With the Green Grocer Project, we're showing our commitment at the DEGC to growing Detroit's economy equitably,” says DEGC President and CEO Kevin Johnson. “When we assist local entrepreneurs in opening grocery stores right in the neighborhoods they know best, it empowers residents to meet essential needs while creating new jobs. This is one way to drive opportunity that uplifts our whole community.”

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MJ Galbraith is Model D's development news editor. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.