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The Chicago Sun Times reports that Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker has signed into law legislation "that aims to combat the state’s food deserts by sending $20 million to grocers to open and expand stores in underserved rural towns and low-income neighborhoods.

"The measure establishes the Illinois Grocery Initiative, a new policy that will support existing grocers and help encourage new grocers by allowing stores getting grants to be able to receive tax credits and other incentives."

According to the story, "The governor said 20% of the initiative will help stores replace aging equipment with energy-efficient alternatives to help keep costs down and help keep their doors open.

"The grants will be available to grocery stores that are organized as independently owned, for-profit, co-ops and nonprofit organizations, as well as grocery stores owned by units of local government."

“Too often, residents have to cross county lines, sometimes state lines to pick up bread and milk and produce as residents here in Venice know all too well,” Pritzker said at the bill signing in the Metro East region. “The Illinois Grocery Initiative will help increase access to affordable, nutritious food while helping to revitalize local economies by creating new small businesses or helping to save existing ones.”

KC's View:

This is timely.  As consolidation takes place in the food retail business, big companies with debt loads and investors to satisfy are going to be less likely than ever to serve marketplaces that they deem to be marginal in terms of opportunity.  So it strikes me as good public policy to funnel money to small, independent entities that can see the advantages of serving these neighborhoods.