Totaling $1.3 Million and Counting, Loan Program Spurs Visit from Colorado Rep. Jared Polis
CEF’s Healthy Foods Fund garnered attention from Rep. Jared Polis, spurring a visit to loan recipient, The Crunchy Grocer. Pictured (L to R): CEF Business Acceleration Services Manager Robert Anderson; CEF CEO Ceyl Prinster; The Crunchy Grocer Owner Jonas Buehl; Rep. Jared Polis; and Loveland Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Mindy McCloughan. Photo by Bernard Grant.
Denver, July 27, 2016 – Last week, Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) visited Loveland-based The Crunchy Grocer store to discuss the Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI), a national initiative from which Colorado Enterprise Fund (CEF) receives dollars to be distributed through its Healthy Foods Fund loan program. This partnership between the federal government, Colorado’s farmers, and grocers was created to improve access to healthy foods, establish better dietary behaviors, create jobs and revitalize communities. Rep. Polis met with community members to understand first-hand how the HFFI program is being implemented throughout Colorado communities.
“Every community deserves access to healthy food. Local grocers and farmers play a vital role in the community, and we should do everything possible to ensure their success. At the federal level, we must continue to support programs like the Healthy Food Financing Initiative, and at the local level, we should encourage families to visit their local grocer,” says Rep. Polis.
Having grown up in a farming community, Jonas Buehl’s vision for opening The Crunchy Grocer was to offer a healthier lifestyle by providing fresh, local food grown by a community for the benefit of that community. Jonas first explored opening a store in 2008 but tabled the idea due to the recession. With a SBA Community Advantage loan and healthy food financing from CEF, The Crunchy Grocer opened in 2013 as Northern Colorado’s first independently owned natural foods store. “The Crunchy Grocer is a great example of a business that needed HFFI funds to fill a financing gap to make it possible for Jonas to start and grow his business,” says CEF CEO Ceyl Prinster. “Jonas appreciated the Congressman’s interest in locally owned businesses and how they are sometimes challenged to obtain the resources they need to succeed. We’re pleased to be a conduit for these HFFI funds to have an impact in the local communities we serve here in Colorado, and to partner with local resources like the Loveland Chamber of Commerce.”
More than 29 million Americans live in urban neighborhoods or rural towns where healthy food is inaccessible, according to the USDA’s Economic Research Service 2012 study. These same areas struggle with high unemployment rates and economic stagnation. To address these issues, the CDFI Fund created the HFFI, which includes tax credits, grants, and loans from sources like CEF.
In 2012 and 2013, CEF received two rounds of funding from the HFFI program totaling $1.55 million. CEF leveraged these funds with a grant from the Colorado Fresh Food Financing Fund (C04F) and the national ReFresh partnership (part of the JP Morgan Chase PRO Neighborhoods initiative) to create a dedicated CEF Healthy Foods Fund loan program. These funds finance food production, small grocery retail, and innovative healthy food businesses including farmers’ markets, bodegas, food carts, and produce stands throughout urban and rural parts of Colorado. CEF lends to all segments of the food system to improve access to fresh, healthy food for Colorado’s residents and to promote economic and health benefits for communities designated as “food deserts.” (Click here for a map of areas lacking access to healthy food outlets.) Since 2013, CEF has provided $1.3 million in HFFI funding to 32 small businesses, including The Crunchy Grocer.
About Colorado Enterprise Fund
Founded in1976, CEF provides loans up to $500,000 to finance small businesses and start-ups unable to obtain funding through traditional banks. With a mission to accelerate community prosperity by financing and supporting entrepreneurs and small businesses, CEF has provided over $52 million in loans to more than 1800 businesses to help create or retain over 15,000 jobs in the state. A nonprofit Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), CEF is based in Denver with lending services available statewide. For more information, visit: www.coloradoenterprisefund.org