Rockford could grant Jet Foods $ 1 million loan to open in town
ROCKFORD – City officials are considering a low-interest $ 1 million loan to incent a Jet Foods grocery store to open at a former Hilander location on North Main Street and Riverside Boulevard.
Details of the deal are still being negotiated and need to be approved by city council. The location has been vacant since the Hilander closed in 2012.
Alderman Bill Rose, D-9, said the concept is for an upscale grocery store opening in the summer of 2021 with an in-store chef, “take out options” and plentiful fresh produce, which, according to Rose, is necessary. on the west side of town.
“The biggest problem is we’ve lost shopping and trade here, so walking into a new store tells people that the Westside is profitable, that it’s open for business and the other thing is the number of jobs. that they seek to create, ”Rose mentioned.
Jet Foods – a startup with multiple stores in the Chicago area, including Carol Stream and Park Forest – takes its name from the initials of John Everest Thomas, CEO of its parent company, Freedom Development Group of Chicago. Its business model aims to meet the demand for prepared foods, fresh produce and low prices.
Opening a store in Rockford could mean around 70 new jobs with living wages, Rose said. And, if approved, he hopes the grocery store will meet a buying need of residents who often have to choose between Walmart, smaller grocery stores with limited options, or a trip to the east end of the city.
It could also lead to an increase in foot traffic that could fuel nearby businesses, Rose said.
The loan funds would come from the city’s block grants for community development. Rockford is likely to include a provision to foreclose company assets if the company defaults on the 10-year loan.
Mayor Tom McNamara said that, under the right conditions, the city is ready to take a risk step to encourage the economic development that residents have requested.
“We hope to finalize the terms in the coming weeks for board consideration,” McNamara said. “We told the community that we would be aggressive with developments on the west side, especially those involving much-needed groceries.”