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Big check means big things for Dayton Gem City Market

A giant cardboard check presented tonight was a giant leap forward for efforts to open Dayton’s first food cooperative, the Gem City Market.

KeyBank announced it has awarded $100,000 to help with the project to build a community-owned, full-service grocery store on the 300 and 400 block of Salem Ave., which is located in one of the largest food deserts in the state.

With KeyBank’s commitment, the market has now raised about 40 percent of its $4.2 million capital campaign goal.

“Our partners at KeyBank are joining the fight” against hunger, said Tony Hall, with the Hall Hunger Initiative.

RELATED: Could Gem City Market end Dayton’s food desert? 5 questions answered for you

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But that’s not the only good news that was shared at the market’s community meeting tonight.

The food co-op has now sold about 1,385 shares, which is nearly 70 percent of the its membership goal.

The market seeks to have at least 2,000 members by the time the grocery store opens, which is planned for 2019, supporters say. The market had about 920 memberships in mid-May.

Gem City Market will be built on a vacant lot on the 400 block of Salem Avenue and will involve the former Ken McCallister Inc. art supply property at 300 Salem Ave.

Market supporters say do not yet know if the vacant art supply structure will be renovated and incorporated into the project or if it will be demolished.

This is the second major financial boost the market has received in the last 10 days. Last week, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley accepted a $150,000 CommunityWINS grant, from the American Conference of Mayors and Wells Fargo.

RELATED: Mayor Whaley accepts national grant for Gem City Market

KeyBank wants to lift up the communities it serves, and this will give the community a place where it can get healthy food, said Joey Williams, KeyBank president.

“I think Gem City Market will be an incredible addition,” he said.

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