Renaissance Co-Op: Make it Happen
The divide between Big Government and community empowerment was on display again this week in the Gate City when it came to light that the city will breathlessly spend $2.2 million on engineering work for an estimated $23 million expansion of water and sewer lines into another county, while at the same time city leaders said they might not quite be able to find $600,000 in loans and grants to fully fund the Renaissance Co-Op grocery store out on Phillips Avenue.
The Renaissance Co-Op is a community-driven initiative to bring a grocery store to one of Greensboro’s largest food deserts in the city’s northeast quadrant. It’s planned for the site of the former Bessemer Center, a rundown shopping strip behind a modern city library on Phillips Avenue. The city secured an agreement last year to sell the property to Self Help, a community development lender, to bring life to the plaza that has been vacant for 15 years.
Co-op supporters have secured $1.1 million of the $1.7 million needed to make the grocery store a reality. The co-op would be a for-profit enterprise that could bring jobs, profits and wealth building to a community often overlooked by the glitz of downtown development and the lure of megamillions for real estate developers out on the city’s greenfield fringe.
We realize that the city does not have a limitless supply of money. We can acknowledge that the funds for the water and sewer line will come from specific trust accounts.
But we’ve also watched the city dole out hundreds of thousands of dollars to stuffed suits for repetitive projects across the economic development spectrum.
Developing a healthier community in one of the city’s oldest and most cohesive neighborhoods must be a priority. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. We challenge the city to find a way to make the Renaissance Co-Op a reality. !
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