CGA Member Joins With California FreshWorks Fund

San Luis Obispo County Gains New Grocer And More Jobs

50,052 residents of a California community have increased access to healthy foods and 140 jobs closer to home, as $1.7 million in unique financing allows a new business to invest in San Luis Obispo County. One of the first loans disbursed by California FreshWorks Fund, LLC provides El Rancho Marketplace the means to open a new grocery store serving Pismo Beach, Grover Beach, Arroyo Grande, Oceano, and Shell Beach.

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“Not only is El Rancho Marketplace a family owned business buying fresh, local produce,” commented Scott Sporte, Chief Lending Officer at NCB Capital Impact that manages the California FreshWorks Fund. “It is also stabilizing a local shopping area by replacing a grocery store that closed earlier in the year—displacing workers and forcing residents to travel farther to buy fresh food.”

The FreshWorks Fund provided El Rancho the flexible financing it needed to purchase equipment and inventory for its new $3.6 million store. The result is a 39,000-plus square-foot market featuring well-priced staple foods, natural goods and an in-house deli that makes many items from scratch. Local growers and food producers, with whom El Rancho Marketplace has fostered strong relationships, will also benefit from the new store with El Rancho’s strong commitment to local suppliers.

“While the steadfast commitment of numerous organizations in the California FreshWorks partnership make success stories like this possible, we know it’s the passion and hard work of local grocers that is critical to making health happen in communities across California,” said Robert K. Ross, M.D., President and CEO of The California Endowment, a lead partner in the California FreshWorks Fund. “The funding of El Rancho Marketplace will provide the local community with access to fresh produce and nutritious food options, which in turn promotes healthy eating, helping to reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic illnesses.”

California FreshWorks Fund, LLC is a loan pool that combines commercial and philanthropic capital to provide flexible financing for new and expanding grocery stores. The loan pool is just one of the many financing tools of the California FreshWorks Fund, a grant and loan fund that has invested more than $18 million in California healthy food projects in the last 12 months, with more than $200 million in lending and grants to follow in the next few years. Last year, Chase committed $32.5 million to help create the fund and is the FreshWorks Fund LLC’s lead bank.

“Chase is proud to be part of the growing movement to bring a greater variety of healthy food choices into underserved communities,” said Matthew Reilein, senior vice president of Chase Community Development Banking. “It is exciting to see the tangible result of this innovative fund, which is giving residents access to fresh good and creating more local jobs for the five-city community.”

El Rancho is a family-owned, independent grocer that has operated a store in Solvang for over 40 years. Founded by a German immigrant butcher, El Rancho Marketplace has developed a strong reputation for quality fresh meats and local produce. This new Pismo Beach store is El Rancho’s second supermarket serving California’s central coast, and is made possible with financing from the California FreshWorks Fund.

“FreshWorks has been instrumental in making this dream possible, and we are thrilled with opportunity that they have given us,” said Alfred Holzheu, an owner of El Rancho Marketplace. “Already, between full and part time employees, we have hired almost 140 employees. Plus, we are establishing relationships with local farmers and ranchers, including the students at Cal Poly,” he added.

California FreshWorks Fund partners include: The California Endowment, NCB Capital Impact, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, Met Life, Citibank, Opportunity Finance Network, Charles Schwab Bank, W.K. Kellogg Foundation Dignity Health (formerly Catholic Healthcare West), Calvert Foundation, Kaiser Permanente Unified Grocers, California Grocers Association, Emerging Markets Inc., PolicyLink, U.S. Bank, and Community Health Councils.

About NCB Capital Impact
NCB Capital Impact helps people and communities reach their highest potential at every stage of life. As a national, non-profit community development financial institution, Capital Impact provides financial services and technical assistance to help make high-quality housing, health care, healthy foods, and education more accessible and attainable, and eldercare more dignified and respectful. Capital Impact has used its depth of experience, cooperative approach, and diverse network of alliances to generate over $1.7 billion in critical investments that create a high quality of life for low income people and communities.

About The California Endowment
The California Endowment is a private, statewide health foundation, which was established in 1996 to expand access to affordable, quality health care for underserved individuals and communities, and to promote fundamental improvements in the health status of all Californians. Headquartered in downtown Los Angeles. The Endowment has regional offices in Sacramento, Oakland, Fresno and San Diego, with program staff working throughout the state. The Endowment challenges the conventional wisdom that medical settings and individual choices are solely responsible for people’s health. The Endowment believes that health happens in neighborhoods, schools, and with prevention. For more information, visit The Endowment’s homepage at
Reprinted from PR Newswire (Dec. 12, 2012)