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Published: Thursday, 9/10/2009

Konop: Draw grocers to central city

BY JC REINDL
BLADE STAFF WRITER

From the parking lot of a Kroger store in North Toledo slated for closing, mayoral candidate Ben Konop yesterday announced his proposal to expand a city grant program to help lure more full-service grocery stores to central-city neighborhoods.

Mr. Konop said several areas of Toledo lack supermarkets with large varieties of fresh fruits, vegetables, and other nutritious foods.

He said his proposal as mayor to extend the Toledo Expansion Incentive program to include central-city supermarkets would help ensure access to these foods for those living in lower-income and underserved areas, including the central city and Manhattan Boulevard if the Kroger there closes as planned Oct. 10.

The city's incentive program offers cash grants based on new income tax receipts to certain types of businesses in nine geographic areas.

Although the grants were set up to entice new business investment, Mr. Konop said he would expand the program to the endangered Kroger store as well.

North end residents and community leaders, including independent mayoral candidate Mike Bell, have criticized Kroger Co.'s decision to close the store since it was announced last month. "This is the last inner-city Kroger store there is" in Toledo, said Janet Smolenski, past president of Lagrange Village Council and current president of Lagrange Development Corp.

Two Kroger representatives are scheduled to meet tonight with members of the public and village council. The 6:30 p.m. meeting will be in the Zablocki Senior Center, 3015 Lagrange St.

Spokesman Amy McCormick said Kroger is closing the store because of falling profits.

"Unfortunately we've seen profits at this Manhattan Boulevard location steadily decline over the last 10 years," she said. "The building is just not profitable."

She added that she doubted the company would reverse the decision.



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