Charter One Foundation Leads $210,000 for Detroit’s Food Industry


DETROIT—The Charter One Foundation announced that it is increasing its investment in Charter One Growing Communities program by donating $160,000 to the initiative and again partnering with Eastern Market Corp. The multi-faceted effort will accelerate economic growth and job creation in Michigan by providing grants to entrepreneurs, small businesses and urban farmers involved in Detroit’s local food industry. The program will also support nutrition, public health and financial education.

Launched in 2012, the Charter One Growing Communities initiative is an urban economic development program focused on creating jobs and revitalizing neighborhoods by leveraging the strength of Michigan’s agricultural industry. The Michigan Economic Development Corp. is supporting this year’s program with an additional $50,000 for micro-grants for small businesses based on the success of last year’s program.

“The Growing Communities initiative is a way to stimulate the economy and invest in local businesses that provide important services to residents,” said Ken Marblestone, president of Charter One and RBS Citizens in Michigan and Ohio. “This program means fresh, locally grown food will be readily available for Detroit residents and more jobs will be created in our community. We look forward to making a significant impact on this year’s program with our partners Eastern Market Corporation and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.”

The food and agriculture industries contribute more than $91 billion annually to Michigan’s economy and employ 923,000 in the state. According to the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Michigan is second in the nation for commercially grown crops, but it ranks 19th in food processing. Charter One, Eastern Market Corporation and the State of Michigan seek to build on that strength and further enhance the food economy in Detroit through the support available through the Charter One Growing Communities initiative.  

Mike Finney, president and CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corp., welcomed Charter One’s involvement and said the state was pleased to add a $50,000 grant to the effort to help cultivate a healthy future for Detroit.

“MEDC is proud to partner with Charter One to expand the Growing Communities program,” Finney said. “This important public-private initiative supports entrepreneurship and small businesses, strengthens neighborhoods and creates jobs in Detroit.”

Charter One’s contribution of $160,000 in 2013 will provide a variety of incentives to strengthen and expand the local food network.

  •  Small business grants: Up to 20 grants of up to $5,000 each will go toward equipment purchases, market vendor stall enhancements, sign purchases, façade improvements and materials to transition urban farmers and market vendors into successful small business owners. 
  • Eastern Market neighborhood enhancements: Grants for improvements to the Eastern Market District and market, signage to direct retail traffic to key facilities, improved information and connectivity between the main pathways located in and around the market.
  • Detroit Neighborhood Farmers’ Market Network contributions: Grants will make locally grown foods available in parts of Detroit where it is currently limited; provide programming at markets including healthy cooking demonstrations and financial education in conjunction with the Fair Food Network’s Michigan Double Up Food Bucks program, an initiative that provides information and incentives to maximize finances through the purchase of locally grown produce.

In 2012, Charter One’s initial investment of $140,000 in the Growing Communities initiative resulted in 22 Eastern Market vendors and urban farmers receiving grants to grow their business. Will Branch of Corridor Sausage in Detroit, a handcrafted and artisan meat company and food vendor at Eastern Market, used his grant to purchase commercial walk-in coolers. 

“The Charter One Growing Communities grant has allowed Corridor Sausage Co. to lay the ground work for its expansion into a cured meat and salami line,” said Branch. “This marks not just growth for our company, but is the first business of its type in Michigan.”

Dan Carmody, president of Eastern Market Corp. added, “This is about local food, local people, local ideas and local businesses. Growing Communities is a holistic effort that most simply brings together two important ingredients — job creation via small businesses and public health by making nutritious, fresh food available to more Detroit residents.”

Charter One and Eastern Market Corp. will seek applications for the Growing Communities initiative this summer. Applications will be available online through the Eastern Market website at