The director of the Indiana University Public Policy Institute says a new grocery store under construction on the near northeast side of Indianapolis could have a lasting impact on a community that has not had a full-sized supermarket for several years. The Indy Fresh Market will be located adjacent to the new medical device manufacturing plant owned by Bloomington-based Cook Medical and operated by Goodwill Commercial Services. The market, along with the Cook facility, is part of the broader revitalization of the 38th Street and Sheridan Avenue area.
“The way Cook went about this was the idea of building their medical device manufacturing facility, and helping the community at the same time,” said IU Public Policy Institute Director Tom Guevara in an interview with Inside INdiana Business. “The way they did that was to really pay attention as much to the community needs…and that’s how they found out it was a food desert there.”
LISTEN: Guevara explains to Inside INdiana Business reporter Wes Mills the value of the grocery store extends beyond dollars and cents.
The PPI conducted an economic analysis on behalf of Cook Medical and discovered the store, that is expected to open in late 2023, will have a one-time economic impact totaling $11.1 million, plus an annual impact of $4.6 million in wages and benefits, and related spending.
The study shows an estimated 39 direct jobs, and 61 full-time equivalent jobs will be added to the Marion County economy.
“When you have 39 new employees with new work, they’re also creating jobs for suppliers and other people. And then of course, that puts money in people’s pockets. They go out and buy gasoline, groceries, clothes, whatever they need in their everyday lives, pay rent or whatever,” Guevara said
Indy Fresh Market employees will have access to Goodwill’s wrap-around services including housing support, legal aid, mental/physical healthcare, case management services. The manufacturing facility began production of Cook Medical devices earlier this year.
The 16,700-square-foot grocery store is scheduled to open later next year and the operators intend to hire employees from the surrounding neighborhood.
“Cook is looking at this as an investment in their future employees. And I think that’s what makes it different,” said Guevara. “They’re not looking at this, it just simply typical community, charitable giving, they’re looking at as an investment in future employees.”
The partners hope the concept of building the Indy Fresh Market next to the manufacturing plant and hiring neighborhood residents will serve as a model for other companies to invest in the community.
“We encourage other businesses to come forward and invest time and resources in their communities. There are tangible needs, and you have the resources. We need other businesses to get involved,” said Pete Yonkman, president of Cook Medical and Cook Group.
Neighborhood residents Michael McFarland and Marckus Williams, former owners of a neighborhood convenience store, are being trained to own and operate the grocery store. They are receiving training in grocery store management through a public-private partnership that includes Martin University.
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