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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Full Circle in New Orleans

It's rare you can read thrillingly good news that includes "bankers," "developers," and "Hurricane Katrina" in the same sentence, but Circle Food Store's reopening this month has it all, plus four bell peppers for a dollar. This beloved, one-stop shop in New Orleans' Seventh Ward (the first African-American-owned grocery store in the city) was for years the place residents could buy everything from fresh produce to school uniforms--and even pay utility bills and get a doctor's checkup, too. The beloved store, shuttered after Katrina, was named for the spot where streetcars turned around.

It's taken eight long years to get financing and rebuild after Katrina, but Circle Food Store owner Dwayne Boudreaux has pulled it off, with a unique combination of private and public investment. An added bonus: Hope Enterprise Corp., the nonprofit community development corporation involved in Circle's renaissance, plans to open a branch there to offer responsible banking and loan services. As nola.com reports, since traditional big banks have steered clear of the neighborhood, predatory and payday lenders have swooped in. Here's hoping Circle shoppers will soon have a chance to pick up some economic justice with those Circle Foods-branded hot sauces and coffee. h/t NextCity.org

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