DETROIT — Avalon International Breads is nearing completion of a $2.2 million economic growth project that will mean more jobs and a much-needed boost for the economy of Detroit.
Construction on what will be called Avalon City Ovens is well underway in a semi-vacant industrial neighborhood on Detroit’s East side. An old, dilapidated 50,000 square foot warehouse is now bustling with construction activity — promising a renaissance to the area near the abandoned Packard plant.
Workers are busy erecting walls, painting ceilings and installing utilities. A large artisan deck oven, recently shipped from Italy, is being built by one of a kind journeymen. The new craft bake house will soon produce Avalon’s trademark baked goods.
“Avalon City Ovens” will service the artisan bakery’s growing wholesale and retail customers. “In July of 2012, we opened our second retail storefront – the “Eat Well, Do Good” cafe inside Henry Ford Hospital’s West Grand Blvd. facility,” said Ann Perrault, co-founder of Avalon International Breads. “The quick success of this store and growing demand for Avalon products in suburban Detroit and Ann Arbor has prompted our expansion. We have supported Detroit since 1997 and we’re thrilled to continue our growth right here in the heart of the city.”
The renovation at 6555 East Forrest (at Bellevue) is the first phase of Avalon’s expansion plans and just one piece of a $2.2 million expansion project, funded by a loan that closed in early October. Weathering the 2008 recession, the foreclosure and banking crisis and political upheaval in Detroit, the loan is a major accomplishment not only for Avalon International Breads, but also for the public and private partners in the project.
“The Michigan Economic Development Corporation under Mike Finney wanted to jump start economic growth and support businesses dedicated to employing people, particularly from urban communities,” said Don Snider, senior vice president, Urban Economic Development for MEDC. “Avalon is a great example of how our collaborative resources with local partners can lead to growth that benefits all of metropolitan Detroit. In addition to support from MEDC, Avalon’s other partners in the loan include Invest Detroit, Whole Foods, the Small Business Administration and Main Street Bank.
“Our phenomenal expansion into grocery stores, restaurants, cafes and new retail outlets has far exceeded the capacity of our original 2,000 square foot production and retail flagship store on Willis,” added Perrault. “As the city of Detroit continues its renaissance, Avalon has the unique opportunity to provide a state of the art manufacturing facility for baked goods and create much-needed jobs for the area.”