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Charter One Foundation helps grow jobs and healthy food in Detroit

Leads $100,000 in grants to 30 small food businesses, urban farmers

Detroit's local food industry has benefitted from more than $300,000 in investment from Charter One as part of its Growing Communities program with Eastern Market

DETROIT (October 1, 2013) – Charter One, in partnership with Eastern Market Corporation and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, today announced it is awarding $100,000 in grants from the Charter One Foundation to 30 food-related businesses and enterprises in Detroit. The grants are another step toward Charter One’s effort to expand local food production and processing to create jobs, revitalize neighborhoods and increase the supply of healthy food to underserved neighborhoods.

The grants announced today are being awarded through Charter One’s Growing Communities program, an urban economic development initiative that focuses on job creation and reinvigorating neighborhoods by leveraging Michigan’s agricultural industry. Growing Communities is part of Citizens Helping Citizens Strengthen Communities, the bank’s program to contribute to the economic vitality of its communities.

“We want to help make Motown a thriving Growtown,” said Ken Marblestone, President of Charter One and RBS Citizens, Michigan and Ohio. “Today we’re awarding seed money to a diverse group of Detroit food entrepreneurs to help grow their businesses and contribute to a more vibrant Detroit. We believe that the expansion of the local food industry will boost the economy by creating more jobs and producing and processing food locally, instead of hundreds or even thousands of miles away.”

Grants are being awarded in three areas:

  • Land to transform vacant city lots into urban farms – Urban farmers such as Jean’s LLC and Detroit Garlic Connection are receiving grants to expand their operations by acquiring more vacant lots. The grants will convert more than 30 vacant lots into gardens that will produce various crops including herbs, vegetables and fruit.
  • Financing equipment needed for business operations – An array of Detroit food entrepreneurs are receiving grants to buy new equipment. For example, Chugga’s Main Street Bakery will buy a 30 quart mixer to increase output, Detroit Zen Center will convert a room into a dehydrator to address demand for its kale chips and Ethel’s Edibles will acquire a double-stack gas convection oven to produce baked goods more efficiently. D-Town farms will purchase a field and brush mower for its two-acre farm to grow more produce. Other businesses will buy equipment including a commercial blender, hydroponic technology, irrigation supplies, coolers, greenhouse and other pieces of equipment to increase production.
  • Needed signage and displays – Signage is critical for small food producers who sell their wares at the Eastern Market and elsewhere. Some grants will be used to create signage for local businesses such as Nikki’s Ginger Tea and SeedsGROW Market Garden.

While Charter One’s Growing Communities today announced grants for local food entrepreneurs, the program features a multi-faceted approach which includes financing improvements at Eastern Market and promotion of farmers’ markets in neighborhoods throughout Detroit to ensure residents have access to fresh, healthy produce and other nutritious food. All components of the grant are meant to support the expansion of the local food industry to bolster the economy in Detroit and throughout Michigan by supporting small businesses.

Michigan is second in the nation in agricultural diversity – producing more than 300 commodities on a commercial basis, but is just 19th in the nation in food processing. Michigan’s food industry has grown more than 50 percent in six years. Many believe there is room to grow food-related jobs in and around Detroit.

As part of its commitment to growing food-related jobs in and around Detroit, Charter One is contributing $50,000 for these grants, as part of its overall contribution this year of $160,000 in incentives for the local food network.

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation contributed matching funds of $50,000 toward the grants announced today.

“With these grants, we’re rewarding hard work and good ideas and we’re investing in tomorrow,” said Mike Finney, President and CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. “Today’s grant will help food entrepreneurs launch their business ideas as well as grow and create jobs. Sometimes, all it takes is a helping hand to pull a small or new company into a larger arena. That’s what we’re trying to do here – we’re trying to grow jobs by encouraging companies that grow food and we applaud Charter One for leading the way.”

The grants will be given to and administered by Eastern Market Corporation, the nonprofit that manages Eastern Market and serves as the economic development organization for Eastern Market District.

“Growing the local food sector means more jobs as well as more nutritious food for Detroit dinner tables,” said Dan Carmody, President of Eastern Market Corporation. “With Charter One’s help, Detroit is earning a national reputation for regional food system development. These grants represent another step forward in expanding local producers and processors who are the entrepreneurial backbone of our growing food sector in southeast Michigan.”

About Citizens Helping Citizens
Grounded in the belief that a good bank gives back to its community and to the people who live there, Citizens Helping Citizens is a program embracing the community goals of RBS Citizens Financial Group, Inc. – the commercial bank holding company serving consumer and small business customers as Citizens Bank and Charter One and commercial banking customers as RBS Citizens. The Citizens Helping Citizens program comprises five key initiatives supported directly by RBSCFG and also by its nonprofit charitable foundations, the Citizens Charitable Foundation, the Citizens Bank Foundation and the Charter One Foundation: Citizens Helping Citizens Fight Hunger, Citizens Helping Citizens Provide Shelter, Citizens Helping Citizens Strengthen Communities (economic development), Citizens Helping Citizens Teach Money Management (financial education) and Citizens Helping Citizens Give (volunteerism and colleague charitable donations). Across all of these initiatives, Citizens Helping Citizens strives to enhance quality of life and economic vitality in local communities.

About Charter One
Charter One is a division of RBS Citizens, N.A., operating in Illinois, Michigan and Ohio. It has 337 branches and 504 ATMs. It has 103 branches and 241 ATMs in Illinois. Charter One’s website is charterone.com.

RBS Citizens, N.A., is a subsidiary of RBS Citizens Financial Group, Inc., a $126 billion commercial bank holding company. It is headquartered in Providence, R.I., and through its subsidiaries has approximately 1,400 branches, more than 3,600 ATMs and nearly 19,000 colleagues. Its two bank subsidiaries are RBS Citizens, N.A., and Citizens Bank of Pennsylvania. They operate a 12-state branch network under the Citizens Bank brand in Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont; and the Charter One brand in Illinois, Michigan and Ohio. RBSCFG has non-branch retail and commercial offices in more than 30 states. RBSCFG is owned by RBS (the Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc). RBSCFG’s website is citizensbank.com.



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