Mark Zaitona, who immigrated from Iraq 20 years ago, has created three grocery stores—in Flint and Detroit, MI, and now in Toledo, OH—that bring fresh food, quality jobs and commercial vitality to communities deemed food deserts. An ABC news story profiles his latest enterprise and features Toledo LISC's Kim Cutcher (LISC has invested in two of the stores), who brought an $800,000 below-market loan to the project.
The excerpt below is from:
More than $1 million invested in Dorr Street Corridor grocery store
by Lissa Guyton, 13 ABC
A major investment in the Door Street corridor. The Family Food Center at the corner of Dorr and Detroit has been redone from top to bottom, and a lot of people helped make that possible.
The owner has invested just over one million dollars in the store. Everything is new from the floors to the refrigeration units and the shelves. A lot of the products on the shelves are new too. The renovation has helped maintain and create jobs in the neighborhood as well as give people more fresh and healthy options.
Mark Zaitona is the owner. Mark and his family ran an agricultural business in Iraq. When he came to the United States more than twenty years ago, he worked his way up in the grocery business, "I started as a bagger and I kept going and going. I worked in every department, and now I own my own stores in Detroit, Flint and Toledo."
It took a lot of work and investment to get the Toledo store to what it is today, "From the first day I walked in the store I knew it had a lot of potential. It certainly needed a lot of work, but I know it's going to work."
To make it work, Mark had a lot of help along the way. In addition to Mark's investment, the local initiatives support corporation or LISC Toledo made an $800,000 below-market loan to help mark buy the property and make improvements. Kim Cutcher is the Executive Director,"We're excited to partner with neighborhoods, faith-based leaders and local government to leverage federal and local resources to support high quality goods and services that this neighborhood needs and deserves. We are able to bring lots of different financial resources like grants, loans and equity as well as technical assistance to neighborhood organizations and small businesses to support comprehensive approaches to community development."