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Mayor Landrieu and the City Council Announce First Fresh Food Retailer Initiative Loan

December 22, 2011

Today, Mayor Mitch Landrieu, the City Council, the Hope Enterprise Corporation and The Food Trust announced the first recipient of funding assistance under the New Orleans Fresh Food Retailer Initiative. With support from program,  KDLG, LLC d/b/a/ DaFresh Seafood and Produce Store (DaFresh) will open a seafood and produce market at the corner of Baronne Street and Jackson Avenue. 

The Fresh Food Retailer Initiative (FFRI), launched in March 2011, will award $14 million worth of forgivable and low-interest loans to supermarkets and grocery stores that are located in or plan to locate in underserved neighborhoods in New Orleans. The FFRI program enables vendors, such as DaFresh, to open, renovate or expand retail outlets that sell fresh fruits and vegetables in those areas of the City where access to fresh foods has been lacking, particularly for low-income residents.

"Awarding the first FFRI loan is an important step toward promoting a better quality of life in underserved neighborhoods and fostering healthier lifestyle habits for all of our citizens,” said Mayor Landrieu. “Projects like this create jobs, generate taxes and reinvigorate neighborhoods, and we look forward to more fresh food store openings in neighborhoods throughout the city.”

The total project cost for DaFresh to open is $249,940.00, with the FFRI offering a loan of $117,000.00, with a forgivable amount of $11,700.00. DaFresh will use the FFRI funds for construction, renovation, architecture and engineering, purchasing of equipment, working capital and inventory. In addition, part of the funds will go to employee training. DaFresh plans to employ eight people.

DaFresh is managed by Douglas B. Kariker, a native New Orleanian who resides less than a mile from his planned market. Before applying for the program, he canvassed neighborhood residents to ask what they wanted in a retail operation.

“I have always dreamed of owning and operating a business in my hometown, and in opening this market, I feel like I am living an entrepreneur’s dream,” said Kariker. “I have a relative who operates a successful seafood business in the metropolitan area, and I have always dreamed of doing something similar for my neighors, fellow citizens and friends. Because of the FFRI, I will hopefully make that dream a reality.”

"This store will provide delicious, Louisiana-caught seafood and other healthy foods like fresh fruits and vegetables for Central City residents," said Yael Lehmann, Executive Director of The Food Trust.  "We are thrilled with the response by grocers to the Fresh Food Retailer Initiative and we look forward to making more of these announcements in neighborhoods across the city."

“Grocers that provide access to nutritious foods are a vital element of a healthy neighborhood,” said HOPE CEO Bill Bynum.  “Supporting a business that brings fresh foods into an underserved neighborhood creates jobs and stimulates local economic development, which is a win for everybody.”

Mayor Landrieu’s advisor for economic development Aimee Quirk oversees the Fresh Food Retailer Initiative for the City. She said, “FFRI was created to support the physical health of our citizens and the economic health of our neighborhoods.  We are pleased that FFRI is available to help DaFresh bring jobs and private investment into Central City. Dozens of applicants from across New Orleans have applied for the program, and we expect to have many more announcements coming soon.”

“Access to fresh foods and produce is vital to improving the health of our residents,” said City Health Commissioner Dr. Karen DeSalvo.

City Council President Jacquelyn Brechtel Clarkson said, “This is wonderful news. Thank you to the Hope Enterprise Corporation, The Food Trust, and everyone in the Administration who implemented this program. By bringing forgivable and low-interest loans to fresh food retailers, we not only enable small businesses in neighborhoods like Central City to thrive, but we also have the chance to improve the health of the surrounding community.”

“Access to fresh food is critical for a healthy New Orleans, and this loan through the Fresh Food Retailer Initiative is a step in the right direction,” said City Council Vice-President Eric Granderson.

“I want to thank the Landrieu administration and our community partners for kicking off this important initiative in Central City,” said District B Councilmember Stacy Head.  “This new store will revitalize this corner and the surrounding neighborhood while giving the residents of District B greater access to the fresh, nutritious foods they need to live better, healthier lives.”

“Mayor Landrieu and I are committed to delivering access to quality, fresh foods for our community,” said District E Councilmember Jon Johnson, who serves as chairman of the City Council’s economic development and health committees. “Investments like this will help bring back our most underserved neighborhoods. We look forward to bringing more fresh food retailers to other parts of the city in the future.”

"We continue to see new businesses opening in neighborhoods across the city, demonstrating that New Orleans really is a great city for business,” said Rodrick Miller, President and CEO of the New Orleans Business Alliance. “The access to capital the FFRI provides is helping local entrepreneurs to meet the need for healthy food options in underserved community in New Orleans.”

 About the Program

Mayor Mitch Landrieu announced the launch of the New Orleans Fresh Food Retailer Initiative (FFRI) in March 2011 in an effort to expand access to healthy food at affordable prices, provide quality employment opportunities for New Orleans citizens and serve as a catalyst for neighborhood revitalization. New or existing stores funded through the FFRI program will dedicate significant shelf space to fresh produce and promote product placement, marketing and outreach to low-income areas.

To fund FFRI, the City is providing $7,000,000 in Disaster-Community Development Block Grant (D-CDBG) funds, which will be matched 1:1 by the City’s partner, Hope Enterprise Corporation (HOPE). In addition, the City has partnered with The Food Trust, a national non-profit organization with a track record for administering innovative approaches to expanding access to fresh foods in Pennsylvania and New York.

Applicants must plan to either open a self-service supermarket or other grocery retail outlet primarily selling fresh produce, seafood, meat, dairy and other groceries; renovate and substantially improve a store’s ability to stock and sell a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables; or develop a real estate project that will lease space to a grocery retail tenant.


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