Pastor Flynn shared that “the most formidable challenge has been identifying the funding and the financing.” In 2020, North Flint Reinvestment Corporation secured a grant from the Healthy Food Financing Initiative at Reinvestment Fund for $200,000. “HFFI came along at a critical time,” he said. A project like this requires a blend of capital resources. Leveraging catalytic dollars such as HFFI, can help secure additional key financing and close one or multiple financing gaps. For the North Flint Food Market, HFFI funds kick-started the store’s construction and renovation, but it also acted as leverage, helping to secure $547,000 in New Markets Tax Credits (NMTC) and a $845,000 grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC). “We were able to show other funders that we had a partner in HFFI”, said Pastor Flynn.
North Flint Food Market expects to open in the first quarter of 2024. It exceeded its goal of 1,000 member-owners by opening day. The achievement was, in part, due to its offer of an affordable membership rate at $250 with the option to enroll in a payment plan, putting down as little as ten dollars to gain membership. Early recruitment of members was critical to funding predevelopment expenses like contractual and legal fees for the development of the market’s bylaws, which were needed for their NMTC deal.
The market will include departments for produce, deli, meat, seafood, baked goods, and dairy. The market will hire staff from within the community and expects to create 15 full-time and 23 part-time positions. A partnership with Michigan State University’s Center for Regional Food Systems will assist the market in achieving its goal of sourcing 10 percent of its produce from local farmers in its first year and increasing this percentage over time.
For North Flint Food Market stakeholders, bringing affordable fresh food back to North Flint is just a starting point. The long-term vision for this project is a multi-phase development of a health and wellness corridor allowing residents to continue rebuilding a community of their own. As a city that is no stranger to an exodus of capital and investment, Pastor Flynn believes there is hope that North Flint Food Market’s framework can be a blueprint for similar communities ready to pave their own way. “This project is not only important to Flint but is also possibly a national model to replicate in other areas. That’s a goal.”