Tax breaks offered for grocery stores willing to open in Binghampton and Uptown

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Tax breaks aren't just for big corporations anymore, and it means grocery stores are one step closer to coming to two inner city neighborhoods.

On Wednesday, the Economic Development Growth Engine (EDGE) board signed off on tax breaks for grocery stores in so-called "Food Deserts," which are parts of town where folks have no access to fresh food.

The new tax breaks are called Community Builder PILOTS, and the grocery stores will go in Binghampton and Uptown.

According to city data, one out of four people in Binghampton are without a car. The stats are similar for Uptown too.

If those people don't shop at corner or dollar stores, they have to trek miles to get groceries by bus or by foot.

In Uptown, it takes at least 30 minutes to walk to get fresh food.

"It is so hard to do economic development in the inner cities," said EDGE CEO Reid Dulberger.

He said companies study market conditions, and many times think inner cities are too risky.

That's why EDGE approved giving a 75% property tax break over the next 15 years to developers willing to take the chance.

"These tax breaks are focused to help distressed, inner-city neighborhoods. If we are not willing to do that, I don't know what we are willing to do as a community," said Dulberger.

Neighborhood development groups in both areas have already secured the land.

Binghampton bulldozed a blighted apartment building at the corner of Tillman and Sam Cooper in January.

In Uptown, the goal is to get someone to move in to a boarded up building that used to be a Kroger. It's across the street from St. Judge on Jackson and Danny Thomas.

EDGE board members say Binghampton is further along in securing a grocery store. They actually have a letter of intent, but wouldn't say from who.

EDGE will allow up to 13 more of these tax breaks for projects in the inner cities. It doesn't have to be a grocery store. It can be any development that brings jobs and get the neighborhoods back on their feet.

Community Builder PILOT Proposal: Binghampton Gateway Center

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