Stepherson Inc. plans to operate a new Superlo Foods grocery store in Orange Mound and is seeking a $100,000 Inner City Economic Development or ICED loan to help with the project.

A preschool day care operation also is seeking a $20,000 forgivable ICED loan for its second location in Orange Mound.

William “Randy” Stepherson’s application to the Economic Development Growth Engine for Memphis and Shelby County (EDGE) shows the company will invest more than $2 million in the grocery store project.

The new Superlo store at 2269 Lamar Ave. is where a Kroger store once operated but has been vacant since February 2018.

The building will require numerous structural upgrades, and Stepherson will invest $437,161 on a general contractor, $126,175 on refrigeration systems, about $90,000 in a point-of-sale system, $31,426 for security cameras and $60,000 for meat department equipment.

Another $650,000 will be invested in inventory for the new store and the building is valued at $750,000, according to the application.

The application comes with at least one letter of endorsement from Mt. Pisgah Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, whose pastor said this area of Orange Mound is a food desert whose residents have limited access to fresh, healthy foods and many have transportation issues.

The Rev. Willie Ward Jr., pastor of the Orange Mound church, said in his letter that having the empty store building “does nothing but place the community on a path for further depopulation and economic decline.”

“Not only does the full-service grocery store provide the sustenance of life, it fills the roles of economic driver, community builder and employer,” he wrote.

Stepherson Inc. is a longtime family business that first launched in 1944 under the Big Star store brand. It now operates eight grocery stores in the Memphis area, seven as Superlos and one retaining the Stepherson’s name.

“Not only does the full-service grocery store provide the sustenance of life, it fills the roles of economic driver, community builder and employer.”
Rev. Willie Ward Jr., Mt. Pisgah Christian Methodist Episcopal Church

The EDGE application indicates there are 96,574 people living within a three-mile area of the proposed store. The grocery will be 37,500 square feet and employ 28 full-time workers making an average annual wage of $35,513. Another 40 employees will work part-time.

The EDGE staff recommends approval of the seven-year ICED loan.

Creative Home Academy & Preschool, a child care center serving ages six weeks to 12 years, is seeking a $20,000 forgivable EDGE ICED loan to fund exterior and HVAC upgrades for its second location in Orange Mound.

Constance Cherry filed the application on Creative Home Academy’s behalf. Cherry owns and operates the first Creative Home Academy location at 1236 Elkwood St. and is seeking a second location at 1149 Semmes to accommodate its growth.

Creative Home Academy, established in 2007, is geared for families who seek healthy organic meals and want their children to participate in activities like gymnastics, music and Spanish lessons, according to its application.

Cherry, who has a degree in social work and nonprofit management from the University of Memphis, has worked in early childhood care since 1997.

The loan funds would be used to paint the building’s exterior, plus upgrade the parking lot and fencing. The building was constructed in 1950. Five additional jobs would be created as part of Creative Home Academy’s expansion.

The term of the proposed $20,000 loan is for three years, and the total cost of the project is $41,818. The second Creative Home Academy location also has the support of the Orange Mound Development Corp., according to the application.

“The community will benefit from services, because it will serve a need of childcare in an area considered a desert,” Cherry wrote in her application.

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