INDIANAPOLIS — A global company is bringing its resources to a northeast Indianapolis neighborhood, building a grocery store in a food desert.
Michael and Carolyn Saahir can tell you every business that was in the area of East 38th Street and Sheridan Avenue when they moved to their neighborhood more than 30 years ago.
"A street a quarter mile down was Linda's Ice Cream," Michael Saahir said. "Paint store, if you wanted to get items for your home, you could drive, almost walk."
They're memories now with most properties vacant.
"That happens. We have a history of that in inner-city neighborhoods, and this right here is hope that maybe that will stop and turn this thing around," Saahir said.
The Indy Fresh Market is a full-service grocery store, and it's going up on the corner of East 38th Street and Sheridan Avenue.
"With this fresh market, I like that name, too, fresh. Fresh market, a fresh start," Saahir said.
Bloomington-based global medical device maker Cook Medical is building the store right in front of its manufacturing facility. Its goal is to hire more than 100 people from the neighborhood.
"We can work in partnership with you to add our voices with your voices to say, 'How can we work together to bring these opportunities, the businesses, back?'" said Cook Medical President Pete Yonkman.
Neighborhood entrepreneurs Michael McFarland and Marckus Williams will run the store, in the neighborhood where they grew up with their families.
"They're all excited and proud," McFarland said.
National grocery expert Joseph Welsh, also known as "Joe the Grocer," helped connect them with Cook Medical.
"The true retail hustle, they understood it from day one," Welsh said.
This store is partnering with Martin University to teach students about grocery store management with hopes of launching future entrepreneurs in other Indianapolis neighborhoods.
"The food insecurity work must continue in Indianapolis. This is where we start, here. If I'm involved, this is not the last store for these two men to open in the community," Welsh said.
The manufacturing facility is expected to open next spring with the grocery store to follow.