Green Grocer Project launches, aims to refresh Detroit's grocery economy

The Family Fair Food Center grocery store at Lafayette and Chene is fairly representative of a Detroit grocery store. Its exterior is not really welcoming -- there's a "cart jail" outside the entrance and usually quite a few people are loitering. Once you get inside, however, it is clean with a wide selection of products.

The Detroit Economic Growth Corporation's newly launched Green Grocer Project aims to work with stores like Family Fair to improve their exteriors -- or any aspect of their operations, including customer service, sustainability, marketing, sourcing, store design, accounting or merchandising.

In addition to this technical assistance, for which $200,000 has been allocated, the Green Grocer Project will act as a clearinghouse for grocers' needs in terms of navigating city bureaucracy and site selection. A $500,000 revolving loan fund also has been established to help finance store improvements. In its first year, the program aims to assist five to 10 grocers with technical issues, and five with financing.

At the program's launch May 17, officials including Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, DEGC president and CEO George Jackson, and Auday Arabo, COO of the Associated Food and Petroleum Dealers, gathered to speak about the importance of grocery stores to Detroit's overall economy. "This program is an opportunity to create jobs and make our city healthier," Mayor Bing said.

"Grocery stores are a part of the overall food chain, and the delivery system is very important," Jackson said, adding that Detroiters spend $277 million to $340 million a year on groceries at stores outside the city. The Green Grocer Project aims to capture that retail leakage by improving existing stores, attracting new ones and increasing resident awareness of existing quality stores.

The Green Grocer Project has received funding from the Kresge Foundation, Lasalle Bank (now Bank of America), Detroit Investment Fund and the City of Detroit.

For information about applying for assistance through the program, send a message with contact information and a brief description of your request via email to [email protected] or via fax to 313-963-8839.

Source: George Jackson, DEGC
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

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