City of Birmingham

Birmingham to Spend $2 Million to Recruit Grocery Stores to Underserved Areas

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The office of Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin has announced a $2 million grocery store recruitment plan focusing on West Birmingham and other underserved communities.

The plan will be funded out of $12.9 million recently recovered from the refinancing of the city’s Commercial Development Authority bond debt. According to a press release, the money will be used “to lure at least two” grocery store chains to the city.

“I am excited about the potential of residents having access to stores brimming with fresh vegetables, fruits and meats,” Cornell Wesley, the city’s director of Innovation and Economic Opportunity, said in the release. “We see the value in investing in our communities and believe grocers will too.”

Woodfin’s IEO office has prioritized the fight against food deserts, providing economic incentives to several new and existing grocery stores and creating a citywide “healthy food overlay district” limiting the spread of dollar stores and loosening regulations on grocers and farmers markets.

The city’s next steps in that battle will involve identifying and analyzing community spending trends, which will be used to craft custom recruitment presentations for grocery chains, the release stated.

The IEO also plans to implement a citywide supermarket program “that, among other things, identifies multiple potential sites, determines any needed development assistance, and simplifies the review process for grocery retail.”