(WASHINGTON, DC) – Today, The Bowser Administration, the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, and Capital Impact Partners awarded $400,000 in Nourish DC Grants to nine local BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) owned food businesses in Wards 5, 7, and 8 to support the development of a more equitable food ecosystem in the District. This investment continues Mayor Bowser’s effort to improve food access, create new employment opportunities, and stimulate economic development in the District.
“We are on a mission to grow our food ecosystem and ensure that residents, no matter what Ward, have access to the healthy food options they need and deserve,” said Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development John Falcicchio. “In addition to increasing food amenities in underserved Wards, Nourish DC is focused on assisting existing small local food businesses, and providing the resources for them to grow and serve more DC residents.”
The Bowser administration awarded $1M in funding to Capital Impact Partners to serve as the fund manager for the Nourish DC Collaborative to provide loans, grants and technical assistance to locally-owned small food businesses in underserved communities lacking grocery and other food amenities. The Nourish DC Collaborative seeks to promote an equitable recovery by investing in small food businesses, particularly Black and Latino-owned businesses, to increase capital and access to healthy food in the District. Nourish DC is also designed to support entrepreneurs and small business owners in becoming investment ready and competitive for other private investment opportunities and District grant programs.
In addition to these nine grant awardees, Nourish DC has supported the disbursement of six loans and 88 businesses have received one-on-one or cohort-based technical assistance. For example, the Benning Market project is receiving a $15 million loan package from multiple lenders including Capital Impact Partners, with Nourish DC providing the gap financing to establish Market 7 as the project’s anchor tenant. Benning Market is a 24,000-square-foot neighborhood-serving commercial development project focused on food, health and entrepreneurship located in Ward 7. Market 7 will create an open concept retail community market space where local entrepreneurs can lease storefronts and kiosk spaces. Market 7 has been in business for four years as a pop-up food and retail market working with 60 small businesses. The permanent marketplace will feature local, Black-owned businesses, hire about 50 employees primarily from the neighborhood, and provide healthy food options and retail opportunities in Ward 7.
“Capital Impact Partners is thrilled to partner with the District of Columbia to provide these grants to locally owned food businesses that are working in our underserved communities,” said Ellis Carr, president and CEO of Capital Impact Partners and CDC Small Business Finance. “This is just the first step in what we hope will be a long partnership providing much-needed funding to support an equitable food system in Washington, DC.”
The grant awardees include A1 Grocery Store; Mechos Dominican Kitchen; Pinke’s Eats; Plum Good; Rich Capital Concepts (VeggieDC Farmers Market); Three Part Harmony Farm; Turning Natural Juice Bar; Wellfound Foods; and Circle 7 Food and Grocery Market. All grant awardees are businesses owned by people of color operating in priority Wards 5, 7, or 8, and seven of the nine awardees are woman-owned. The awardees also represent a wide array of food sectors and include a grocery store, a caterer, a food truck, a corner store, a restaurant, a farmers’ market, and a food processor.
“The Nourish DC Catalytic Grant is important for our business because it will allow us to scale at a faster pace, provide efficiency in daily operations, and make funds available to us to purchase uniform packaging,” said Pinkney Reddick, owner of Pinke’s Eats. “The Nourish DC Catalytic Grant supports our business by providing financial resources to purchase equipment, invest in marketing, and invest in staff, which will create 8-10 full-time and 15-20 part-time" positions by 2023.”
Awards ranged from $10,000 to 50,000 per business. Eligible expenses include new product development, marketing, technology, real estate acquisition, construction, and tenant improvements. Applicants were required to have a physical location in DC, with preference given to businesses increasing access to healthy food and creating jobs in priority Wards 5, 7, and 8.
The Nourish DC Collaborative partners include Capital Impact Partners (CIP), lender and Collaborative administrator, Washington Area Community Investment Fund (WACIF), lender and technical assistance provider, Latino Economic Development Center (LEDC), lender and technical assistance provider, Dreaming Out Loud, technical assistance provider; and EatsPlace, lender and technical assistance provider.
In FY21, Mayor Bowser announced an investment of $58.6 million to increase food access in areas where structural racism and disinvestment have led to low food access in the District. This investment includes the $4 million Nourish DC Collaborative which supports small food businesses through grants, loans, and technical assistance. The remainder of the funds are allocated for the Food Access Fund to provide capital investments to increase equitable access to fresh, healthy, and affordable food through new grocery and other retail options. In the first round of applicants, nearly $9 million was distributed to nine new establishments in Ward 7 and Ward 8, including restaurants, a kitchen incubator, and a fresh food market.
FY22 Budget Support Act changed the Supermarket Tax Credit to focus eligibility to areas most in need of grocery stores, expand support to more fresh food retailers, and add community engagement requirements for grocers.
The District offers other major funding opportunities for food and other businesses, including the FY22 Neighborhood Prosperity Fund and the FY22 Locally Made Manufacturing grant, which are now open. The deadline to apply for both grants is Friday, March 25, 2022 at 4:00 PM. For more information visit obviouslydc.com