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City renews talks to fund Louisville Community Grocery

Fruit on display
Emmy Smith via Unsplash
Fruit on display

The nonprofit working to establish the Louisville Community Grocery cooperative is again entering talks for $3.5 million in city funding.

On Tuesday, the Metro Office for Management and Budget announced the Louisville Alliance for Community Economics (LACE) was selected for a capital project to bring a grocery to an underserved neighborhood. The group will now begin negotiations with the city to fund its grocery.

In a press release, the office said LACE will work with the Jefferson County Attorney’s Office to draft a letter of intent for Metro Council. The council must approve the letter for the grocery to secure funding.

The Louisville Community Grocery is planned to be a co-op that would allow workers and community members alike to earn from and make decisions for the business. A group of advocates began plans for it in 2015, and they eventually founded LACE as a nonprofit that supports cooperatives. 

Cassia Herron, one of LACE’s co-founders, said the organization is looking forward to working with the city again.

“We want to clarify how we will use the funds and be clear on what Metro’s expectations are for us moving forward,” said Herron, who previously served as LACE’s president.

In 2020, Metro Council allocated $3.5 million in city funding for the development of a community grocery. LACE made a bid to carry out the capital project and was selected for funding consideration in 2021.

Talks between LACE and the city broke down earlier this year, with both sides alleging the other had stalled progress. But when Louisville reopened bidding in the spring, LACE reapplied by the April deadline as one of three entrants.

In June, the Community Foundation of Louisville gifted LACE an acre of vacant Smoketown property to establish the Louisville Community Grocery. Smoketown was one of three neighborhoods that those working to establish the grocery identified as an area in need.

Herron said the organization is working on gathering community support, including corporate sponsors and member-owners. She added the project is expected to cost nearly $12 million and that the city’s selection of their group is helpful to achieving that goal.

“We know that we're not going to raise, you know, several million more dollars without having to ask anyone, but we hope that the message and the news [continue] to reverberate throughout the community.”

Groundbreaking on the Smoketown site is planned to begin either by 2023 or when LACE completes its fundraising goal, said Herron.

Jacob is LPM's Business and Development Reporter. Email Jacob at jmunoz@lpm.org.

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