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Charter One announces $100,000 to cultivate Detroit’s local food network

Expansion of urban farming, farm markets aimed at growing jobs and improving public health

DETROIT - Charter One today announced a new program aimed at improving economic development and promoting the local food industry in Detroit. The program – dubbed Growing Communities – is intended to strengthen local food systems in Detroit that will promote the development of small food-related businesses, increase access to nutritious food and assist with neighborhood revitalization.

Charter One committed $100,000 through its Growing Communities program to Eastern Market with plans to continue funding support throughout the summer and annually in years to come.

"There are innumerable benefits to producing healthy foods locally," said Sandy Pierce, President of Charter One and RBS Citizens, Michigan. "A local food industry means fresher food, and a local food industry that flourishes and expands also produces jobs. We believe a stronger community food system will help to enhance Detroit’s economic, environmental and nutritional health."

The Growing Communities initiative includes various components. To help coordinate the Growing Communities initiative, Charter One is working closely with Eastern Market Corporation, Henry Ford Health System, Michigan State University Product Center, the Garden Resource Collaborative, and the Detroit Community Market Network.

To expand and enhance Detroit’s local food network and increase the economic impact of local food system entrepreneurs, the program includes the following granting initiatives:

  • $30,000 in grants to provide vendors currently operating at Eastern Market with opportunities to increase outreach. The grants will help vendors with signage, custom stands or other needed improvements.
  • $20,000 in grants will provide graduates of urban farmer training programs with the tools needed to launch small businesses, including land or otherwise improve the production or marketing of products.
  • $50,000 in grants will expand the reach of the nine farmers’ markets of the Detroit Community Market Network by providing community outreach efforts and shuttle services designed to increase access to the markets.

"We applaud Charter One for taking the initiative to bring more fresh food to Detroit residents and the farmer’s markets throughout the city,” said Detroit Mayor Dave Bing. “Buying locally-grown food strengthens Detroit’s regional economy and helps to support the health of our residents. Our local food industry is growing, thanks in part to the support and efforts of Charter One and others."

Joining Pierce and Mayor Bing for today’s announcement were Dr. Kimberlydawn Wisdom, Senior Vice President of Community Health & Equity and Chief Wellness Officer, Henry Ford Health System, Dan Carmody, President, Eastern Market Corporation and Frank Gublo, Innovation Counselor, Michigan State University Product Center.

Dan Carmody, president of Eastern Market Corporation, praised Charter One’s focus on encouraging the production and distribution of locally grown food.

"This investment from Charter One has the potential to help trigger exponential benefits in Detroit," Carmody said. "Encouraging locally grown produce and making it more available – particularly in parts of the city where nutritious, fresh food isn’t as available as it is elsewhere - should help more of our residents eat healthier. This kind of investment by Charter One also makes Eastern Market more inviting for the public and gives a boost to a local food industry that can mean more jobs in Greater Detroit and elsewhere in Michigan."

More than 175 vendors sell products, while another 80 businesses operate in the Eastern Market District.

A study completed by Michael Schuman of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies estimated that nearly 5,000 local jobs could be created if Greater Detroit increased the percentage of locally produced food in its overall grocery purchases from the current three percent to 20 percent.

About Charter One
Charter One is a division of RBS Citizens, N.A., operating in Illinois, Michigan and Ohio. It has 341 branches and 534 ATMs. It has 103 branches and 111 ATMs in Michigan. Charter One’s website is charterone.com.

RBS Citizens, N.A., is a subsidiary of RBS Citizens Financial Group, Inc., a $130 billion commercial bank holding company. It is headquartered in Providence, R.I., and through its subsidiaries has more than 1,460 branches, approximately 3,800 ATMs and approximately 19,200 colleagues. Its two bank subsidiaries are RBS Citizens, N.A., and Citizens Bank of Pennsylvania. They operate a 12-state branch network under the Citizens Bank brand in Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont; and the Charter One brand in Illinois, Michigan and Ohio. RBSCFG has non-branch retail and commercial offices in more than 30 states. RBSCFG is owned by RBS (the Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc). RBSCFG’s website is citizensbank.com.

About Eastern Market
Since 1891, Detroit's Eastern Market has been home to an amazing community of farmers, merchants, food lovers and residents. Eastern Market is a year-round Saturday public market that attracts as many as 40,000 during peak seasons, a seasonal Tuesday Market from July to October, a regional wholesale market with growers from Ohio, Michigan, and Ontario, and a cluster of eighty food processors and distributors located adjacent to the market along with restaurants and non-food retail businesses.

Detroit Eastern Market is located between Gratiot and Mack, bordered by St. Aubin and the I-75 expressway— just northeast of downtown Detroit. Eastern Market’s Public Market is open every Saturday 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. The seasonal Tuesday Market is open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. from July 10 to October 30.