By Lawrence Price III
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation announced Tuesday that a new grocery store will soon open on Flint’s north side with the help of the Michigan Strategic Fund.
“The new full-service grocery store in North Flint will help residents with the access to healthy, fresh food they deserve, and offer a community space that will create jobs,” said Governor Whitmer in a press release. “This community partnership and investment are delivering on this longstanding need in the community and helping to build the path for economic growth and recovery in Flint. The store will feed families, create jobs, and help us continue our economic jumpstart.”
The North Flint Reinvestment Corporation project will revamp a vacant building on the corner of Pierson and Clio Road, a reported “food desert” in North Flint. When finished, the food market will provide walkable access to fresh foods and produce to residents of the community, while generating 27 full-time jobs. Over 836 member owners have already endorsed the project for the community.
Alongside the city of Flint’s $200,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds, the Michigan Strategic Fund authorized a $1.25 million Michigan Community Revitalization Program performance-based grant in support as well.
The North Flint Food Market project holds large importance for the city, becoming a source of fresh food and nutrition for a community lacking in these areas. Ranging from chronic disinvestment in living‐wage employers and regional supermarket operators leaving, to the Flint water crisis and its long‐term health issues, the city has suffered throughout the past years.
“Having affordable and healthy grocery options throughout the community with a focus on the north side, one of the most underserved areas, is needed,” said Mayor Sheldon Neeley. “The North Flint Food Market in the Pierson Road Corridor will be a welcomed lighthouse of hope for healthier food resources for Flint families.”
The project has received remarkable local community aid from numerous organizations outside of the 836 member owners. This includes the Ruth Mott Foundation, Community Foundation of Greater Flint, CS Mott Foundation, and Healthy Food Financing Initiative. Hopefully, this will urge other property investors and owners to produce their own renovation projects in the area.
“Access to affordable, fresh, healthy food is a priority for residents of north Flint,” said Ruth Mott Foundation President Raquel Thueme in a press release. “We’re proud to be part of a diverse coalition supporting this resident-owned and -driven enterprise to strengthen the local economy and lay the groundwork for longer-term health and economic development benefits in north Flint.”
The North Flint Reinvestment Corporation (NFRC) and Dr. Reginald Flynn, the developers of the project, set this plan in motion in 2016 after the Flint water crisis and the closure of a neighborhood grocery story in 2014. Now, they are close to executing the plan.
“The store closures adversely impacted low-income, African-American families in north Flint. The USDA has designated this corridor a food desert. However, this area more aptly is experiencing food apartheid with minimal access to healthy, affordable food,” Flynn. “These are concrete reasons why North Flint Reinvestment mobilized residents, city, state and federal agencies, the philanthropic community, local corporations and micro-businesses, and the faith community to finance the North Flint Food Market. I am particularly thankful to MEDC and our other funding partners for investing much-needed resources in an area that has historically experienced disinvestment. We are confident this will lead to further development in the corridor.”