On September 6th, Center for Engagement and Community Development director David Procter presented a webinar about the importance of groceries in rural areas, entitled “Strengthening a Critical Rural Infrastructure: Rural Grocery Stores.”
Procter was asked to present the webinar by Philadelphia-based investment group, The Reinvestment Fund, a “progressive, results-oriented, socially responsible community investment group,” according to the organization’s website. The Reinvestment Fund supports community organizations, and in recent years, has placed a special emphasis on fresh food access. The opportunity to give the webinar arose out of an increased awareness of the importance of grocery stores to a community’s success, both in rural and urban areas.
The webinar participants were representatives from community development financial institutions, more commonly known as CDFIs. These groups fund local projects that benefit the community, including but not limited to small businesses, community development organizations, and more.
The discussion during the webinar mainly focused on financial topics, such as the stores’ average annual sales and their economic viability. A main issue that was discussed was clarification of what exactly the term ‘grocery store’ refers to.
“We generally define grocery store as a place that sells fruit, meat, bread, and a variety of milk. Those are the distinguishing factors between a convenience store or gas station and a rural grocery store,” says Procter.
The webinar was presented to roughly 50 local and national financial institutions, and the presentation focused on the Rural Grocery Initiative and why providing low-cost loans to rural grocers is essential for community health and prosperity.
Procter said he was happy to be able to present the webinar and to talk about these issues with investors from around the country. “It is important that these types of financial institutions are taking an interest in not only rural America, but also rural grocery stores,” says Procter, “Historically, that has not been the case.”
To learn more about rural groceries or the Rural Grocery Initiative, follow @KSU_RGI on Twitter, like Rural Grocery Initiative on Facebook, or visit http://www.ruralgrocery.org/.
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