An Indianapolis neighborhood will soon have access to fresh food with a new grocery store, brought to life through a truly unique neighborhood, corporate and not-for-profit collaboration. The Indy Fresh Market promises to be a full-service grocery store in what is currently a food desert in Northeast Indy, a neighborhood with some of the highest levels of unemployment and poverty in the state.
To help address some of the challenges this community is facing, Cook Medical, Goodwill of Central & Southern Indiana, The Indianapolis Foundation, IMPACT Central Indiana, Martin University, the State of Indiana, City of Indianapolis, and the United Northeast Community Development Corporation have partnered to support two neighborhood entrepreneurs, Michael McFarland and Marckus Williams. Cook Medical will build the store and IMPACT Central Indiana will provide start-up capital. Using a lease-to-own model, the intent is that Michael and Marckus will eventually own the real estate in addition to the grocery store operations.
“…it is an opportunity that is coming to fruition alongside and for the community.”
“The Indy Fresh Market is an investment ripe with opportunity for all involved,” said Tom Kilian Jr., president of IMPACT Central Indiana and president of Hamilton County Community Foundation. “But most importantly—it is an opportunity that is coming to fruition alongside and for the community. Our hope is that this can be a model—created and led by our partners at Cook Medical and Goodwill—for true community development that brings opportunity to all and delivers to the community what the community says they truly need.”
“Food deserts exist throughout our state. They are in our cities and in our rural communities. And we know that more than a quarter of Black Hoosiers live in a food desert. The challenges around food insecurity exacerbates already present health inequalities that can impact many generations to come,” said Pete Yonkman, president of Cook Medical and Cook Group. “Michael and Marckus started with an idea to invest in this community and we, along with the many other partners, are excited to support them in this journey.”
The project began with the announcement of a Cook Medical-Goodwill medical device manufacturing facility that is being built in the neighborhood at 38th Street and Sheridan Avenue. To expand this project, the new 14,000 square foot full-service grocery store will also be constructed near the manufacturing facility. Not only will the store provide additional jobs and future educational opportunities for residents, but it will also bring a much-needed food source to the community.
“Today’s Indy Fresh Market announcement is another reminder that we can continue to bring back opportunities to Northeast Indianapolis if we collectively work together, no matter our differences,” said Ashley Gurvitz, COO and executive director, Alliance for Northeast Unification and United Northeast Community Development Corporation.
“With the support of Martin University to provide an educational curriculum for grocery store operations, our hope is that this project can serve as a model that can be replicated in other neighborhoods and communities,” Yonkman continued. “We’re focused on creating a sustainable business model that supports community ownership and continued education so Northeast Indy can reach its full potential.”
- Michael McFarland and Marckus Williams – own and operate Indy Fresh Market
- Cook Medical – build the store with a goal of 100% minority-owned contractors
- The Indianapolis Foundation and IMPACT Central Indiana – provide additional start-up capital
- Goodwill of Central & Southern Indiana – provide wrap-around services to employees including housing support, legal aid, mental/physical healthcare, case management services, etc.
- Martin University – Developing an official curriculum that would allow individuals to earn accredited certificates and degrees in grocery store operations.
- United Northeast Community Development Corporation – create community connections
- “Joe the Grocer” – supervise the store’s development and training for owners