Detroit Entrepreneur Has Plans for City’s Food Desert

In October, GO writer Jessica Jane French took a look at efforts by community organizations to address “food deserts” in Detroit. What’s a food desert?

According to The Low Income Project Team, food deserts are “areas of relative exclusion where people experience physical and economic barriers to accessing healthy food.” This does not mean that people in food deserts do not have access to any food… just the stuff that is relatively good for them.

In fact, a food desert often has an abundance of “fringe locations,” or businesses that do not serve the sole purpose of selling foodstuffs, yet where food is available think dollar stores, gas stations, liquor stores, etc.). The type of food sold at these stores is usually the worst type of food, and when the only food available is pre-packaged, and full of preservatives, there are bound to be health risks.

tawnyaclark.jpgNon-profit organizations aren’t the only ones working to address this problem, though: as The Michigan Citizen notes, one budding entrepreneur has plans for a “green” grocery store in midtown Detroit. Tawnya Clark, a student at Bizdom U, “an entrepreneur training program housed on Wayne State’s campus,” sees opportunities to create a thriving business and play a role in urban redevelopment. Her concept: “…an organic produce market with locally produced and based products and items, from Detroit and Michigan.” Her vision:

Clark sees her store as not only providing healthy food, but as a destination point, a way to keep money in the city.

“People are really starting to support Detroit and look for things to purchase in Detroit,” she said. “Downtown, midtown, eastside, westside, it is a great time to be part of the revitalization of Detroit.”

Clark’s green grocery is still in the conceptual stage, and she’s busy scouting out locations and writing a business plan. She hopes that when she graduates from the Bizdom U program in July, she’ll have a location and funding settled, and can get down to business.

As Detroit faces monumental urban redevelopment needs, efforts by both non-profit organizations and entrepreneurs will be critical to revitalizing the city. In these kinds of settings, ecopreneurs can not only seize opportunities for profit and growth, but also play major roles in creating viable, healthy communities.

About the Author

Jeff McIntire-Strasburg is the founder and editor of sustainablog. You can keep up with all of his writing at Facebook, and at