More than 30 metro Detroit food-related businesses received more than $60,000 in grants from Charter One today in a partnership with Eastern Market Corp. to provide new equipment or other items intended to help the businesses expand or become more efficient.
“These grants are going to people who are operating small food-related businesses and enterprises,” says Dan Carmody, president of Eastern Market Corp., which will administer the grants. “Encouraging these entrepreneurs makes sense on many levels. Growing the local food industry here means more jobs for Detroit residents.”
Among those benefiting from Charter One’s urban economic development initiative aimed at job creation and reinvigorating neighborhoods is Labrosse Farm in Detroit, which will buy a new greenhouse using its grant money.
“Since 2007, we have been growing heirloom transplants using our basement setup, then moving the plants outdoors to a hoop house — ‘as weather permits,’” says Dawn DeMuyt, who operates the farm. “Since a hoop house is not designed to be efficiently heated, at any given time we had to move 60 flats of transplants back inside depending on temperatures. This year, we had cold damage and lost plants as we had no more space to bring the plants inside once production was underway.”
DeMuyt says with a new greenhouse, the business will produce healthier plants as well as increase production and variety of transplants. “We will greatly increase efficiencies and minimize the labor of continually moving flats to protect them from harsh weather. With a greenhouse we could start market sales earlier and extend it for new hot crops, herbs, and flowers,” she says.
Likewise, Trinosophes, a coffee shop and multidisciplinary art space in Detroit, will use its grant to buy a double door commercial refrigerator.
“We started our business with used equipment,” says Rebecca Mazzei of Trinosophes. “We knew that would only get us so far, but constant improvement was always part of our game plan. We had a freezer which broke down and a fridge that seems to be more of a freezer — so this purchase will really help us become more efficient.”
The grants will also support a mobile ice cream cart for local Mootown smoothies; woodworking tools to create beehives for urban agriculture; and other operational tools including plows and credit card terminals.
To date, Charter One has invested more than $360,000 in efforts to expand Detroit’s local food industry, which they believe can be a growing source of jobs and economic vitality for the region.