WASHINGTON, D.C. – The City of Akron will receive new federal resources to finance the Highland Square Grocery Store Project, a plan to construct a new grocery store in an area not currently served by a fresh grocer. U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) announced today that the City of Akron will receive a “Section 108 loan guarantee” through the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, run through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The loan guarantee will be used to build a new, two-story grocery store in Highland Square, an area of the city that’s considered a “food desert,” or a community that does not have a supermarket or large grocery store within a one-mile radius.
“Dozens of Ohio communities, including Akron, have leveraged Community Development Block Grant funds to create jobs and attract employers,” Brown said. “This loan guarantee is a critical investment in Highland Square that will promote neighborhood development, create jobs, and increase access to quality food.”
The City of Akron will receive $3,800,000 to finance the Highland Square Grocery Store Project. The store, which will be leased to a locally-owned grocer, will provide fresh food to Highland Square-area residents who currently lack a similar outlet. According to HUD, the City of Akron estimates that the project will create 57 full-time equivalent jobs.
The Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program provides communities with direct funds to address a wide range of unique community & economic development needs. More information about CDBG can be found here.
In March 2012, Brown wrote a letter to HUD requesting consideration of the City of Akron’s request for approval for a Section 108 loan guarantee. The text of that letter can be found below.
March 16, 2012
Mr. Paul Webster, Director
Office of Financial Management, Room 7180
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
451 7th Street SW
Washington, DC 20410
Dear Mr. Webster:
As the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development considers requests for Section 108 loans, I would like to bring to your attention a proposal sponsored by the City of Akron.
Section 108 loan funds will be used to assist in the construction of a new grocery store, the Mustard Seed Market, in the city’s Highland Square neighborhood. The Highland Square Development Project will return an essential retail service to a low-to- moderate income area with one of the highest population densities in Akron. This diverse neighborhood is one of the few areas in Akron with a large multi-unit apartment building interspersed among single-family homes.
It is my hope that the City of Akron will be provided the opportunity to improve the livability of this vital and unique neighborhood, as well as increase access to quality food in a “food desert” and enhance economic opportunities in the Highland Square neighborhood.
Please give full and fair consideration to City of Akron’s request for approval for a Section 108 loan guarantee. I ask that you keep my office informed of the status of this application.
United States Senator