Farmers market boosts prospects for downtown Saginaw economic growth

Nate Scramlin

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The project aims to elevate the Saginaw’s profile as a mid-Michigan destination

An expansive indoor/outdoor farmers market is expected to have a transformational economic impact in downtown Saginaw. The project, “Downtown Saginaw Farmers’ Market,” aims to elevate the city’s profile as a mid-Michigan destination, serving as a magnet for retailers, restaurants and businesses while attracting residents to an area where property has been long vacant.

The Michigan Strategic Fund approved September 27 $3.475 million in support of SVRC Market Place. The funds, which are an incentive awarded from the Michigan Community Revitalization Program, are part of a $19.8 million private capital investment into a 2.27-acre property along South Washington Avenue, a downtown main street and former location of the former Saginaw News building, vacant since 2009. When completed, the project is expected to create 53 jobs.

"The SVRC Marketplace Project will be a great addition to the urban core of our city allowing residents to eat better, healthier foods, and to buy local,” said Saginaw Mayor Dennis Browning. “The city strongly supports the SVRC Marketplace Project and is excited about having a farmer's market that is open all year long."

The 100,000-square-foot mixed-used development will feature a three-story marketplace, food processing hub, rental commercial kitchens, business offices, retailers, space for permanent vendors, entrepreneurial support services and headquarters for SVRC Industries Inc., which operates the farmers’ market under SVRC Market Place.

Design of the farmers’ market encourages walking in downtown. The site is near the renovated Bancroft Hotel, a 122-unit historic building that reopened in summer of 2014. The MSF provided $1 million for the project. 

“The farmers’ market brings together the proud agricultural tradition of mid-Michigan with a distinctively 21st-century entrepreneurial sensibility,” said Steve Arwood, CEO of Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC). “We look forward to the momentum of this project and the encouraging prospects for private investment into downtown.”

On behalf of the MSF, the MEDC administers programs and performs due diligence on grants, loans, collateral agreements and approved funds. In addition, the MEDC is the state’s chief marketing agency engaged in business attraction and retention efforts along with serving as a catalyst for job creation.

“The support from the Michigan Strategic Fund will help breathe new life into a core of Saginaw through new jobs created, the economic impact of new businesses, increased number of feet on the street and meeting the need for more fresh fruits and vegetables in our community,” said CEO Dean Emerson, SVRC Industries.

In addition to MSF funds, the development has a package of loans and grants to cover the total cost. Sources include Chemical Bank, historic tax credit and equity provided by the developers. The MSF award is required leverage to receive a loan nearly twice that amount. Of the total $3.475 million award, about $1.5 million will be forgiven upon completion of the project.

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