by Erin Lyng, Progressive Urban Management Associates (P.U.M.A.)
When Ignacio’s only grocery store closed in 2014, two local families, the Lees and McClanahans, sought support from the Colorado Fresh Food Financing Fund (CO4F) to help bring fresh food back to their community. On October 3, 2015, Farmers Fresh Market celebrated its grand opening. The store employs more than 40 people.
“Being longtime area residents and business owners, we knew how important this new store would be to our town. The CO4F financing helped bring Farmers Fresh Market to life, and it’s gratifying to provide our shoppers with a variety of fresh food options” said Amos Lee, the store’s general manager.
Colorado Housing and Finance Authority (CHFA) awarded a $408,000 loan on behalf of CO4F to support the store build. The CO4F loan was used to provide part of the construction financing, in partnership with Vectra Bank of Colorado’s Durango office, and to provide permanent financing. CO4F is a public-private partnership loan and grant fund. It was created in 2013 to finance grocery stores and other forms of healthy food retail in underserved communities throughout Colorado.
CO4F Financing Uses Can Include:
- Business start-up and expansion costs
- Opening a new store
- Keeping a store open under new ownership
- New or upgraded equipment and displays
- Land assembly
- Developing an innovative fresh food retail business concept
“Grocery retail is at the heart of a community. In addition to improving food access and economic conditions, a local grocer provides social advantages such as a sense of belonging among residents”, said Erica Heller with Progressive Urban Management Associates (P.U.M.A.), who provides outreach and technical assistance for CO4F borrowers.
Erin Lyng is an associate with P.U.M.A., providing market research, communications, and project assistance to P.U.M.A’s health community, economic development and downtown strategic planning initiatives.