Detroit Grocery Incubator

Putting grocery stores and healthy food back into Detroit neighborhoods

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2012 Grocery Leadership Fellowship Program Details

Food Network (FFN) is helping to return grocery stores to Detroit neighborhoods. As a cornerstone of neighborhood economic and community health, the absence of groceries has dire consequences for city residents. Many of Detroit's low-income residents have to travel long distances for affordable, high-quality groceries. This lengthy trip not only adds to the cost of obtaining healthy food, it can also become a major obstacle to eating a healthy diet. The Detroit Grocery Incubator project (DGI) is helping ambitious local entrepreneurs obtain the training and experience needed to increase the number of these valuable economic hubs and sources of fresh, healthy food. .

The Situation in Detroit

  • 500,000+ residents live in areas with limited or no access to grocery stores.
  • In the city of Detroit, there are 10 grocery stores for every 100,000 people. As a comparison, for every 100,000 people in San Francisco, there are 40 grocery stores; in Chicago - 42; in Ann Arbor - 23, in Oakland County - 23, in Wayne County - 26.
  • The existing full-service grocery retailers in Detroit currently capture only 69%of Detroit households’ grocery expenditures; however, Detroit residents are spending close to $200 million outside of their neighborhoods.
  • Detroiters could potentially support an additional 583,000 square feet of additional grocery retail space. Depending on their size, that could mean anywhere from 8 to 20 additional stores.
  • Current food options do not support healthy diets in Detroit: over 70% of adults and close to 40% of Detroit’s youth are overweight or obese. Close to 75% of adults and over 80% of young people do not eat adequate quantities of fruits and vegetables according to USDA dietary recommendations.

Rebuilding Our Communities with Grocers

FFN’s Detroit Grocery Incubator project endeavors to create a thriving entrepreneurial infrastructure and provide support to new grocery entrepreneurs. The project aims to:

  • Increase access to healthy food options in Detroit neighborhoods.
  • Stimulate neighborhood growth and economic stability.
  • Create new jobs and business opportunities in grocery stores, adjacent retailers, distribution networks, Detroit-area farms, and local food processors.
  • Create sustainable, affordable, and high-quality, inner-city grocery stores.


The Detroit Grocery Incubator project supports local entrepreneurs who lack the resources, training, or networks to establish a grocery store on their own through: 

  • Classroom training on entrepreneurial skills, business principles, the grocery industry, and Detroit’s local food system.
  • On-the-job training in a successful inner city grocery store.
  • Introducing new grocery entrepreneurs to potential investors and providing technical assistance on business planning and attracting incentives.
  • Community outreach to recruit new grocery entrepreneurs, gather data and resident input, and elicit buy-in.
  • Attracting investment capital by working with policymakers, financial institutions, foundations, and community organizations.


Progress and Updates

Fair Food Network is partnering with Uplift Solutions, Inc. and Tech Town to develop and deliver classroom curriculum and on-the-job training. Check back in the next few months for updates on the Detroit Grocery Incubator class schedule and application process.

Detroit Grocery Incubator Training

The Detroit Grocery Incubator offers an intensive training program that supports local entrepreneurs to establish a grocery store on their own through:

  • Classroom training on entrepreneurial skills, business principles, the inner city grocery industry, new store financing, site selection and Detroit’s local food system.
  • In store training in a successful inner city grocery store.
  • Providing technical assistance on business planning, site selection and attracting capital.

The program begins June 26, 2012.

For more information and to apply, click and download each of the following:

Information Sessions

For detailed information about the Detroit Grocery Leadership Fellowship you are invited to attend one of the following information sessions. Click for more details.

Thursday, April 5, 2012
5:00 pm  Networking
5:30 pm Presentation
6:00 pm

Detroit grocery stores