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Grand Rapids neighborhood market named sustainable business of the year


GRAND RAPIDS, MI — South East Market, a neighborhood grocery store that provides local, sustainably raised meat and poultry as well as produce grown by women and farmers of color, has been named the 2022 West Michigan Sustainable Business of the Year.

The store, which was opened in January 2021 by Alita Kelly and Khara DeWit, received the award from the West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum, a nonprofit that promotes sustainability. The business was recognized because of its efforts to advance climate leadership and social justice, as well as to create a “circular economy.”

DeWitt said she was “honored” to receive the recognition.

“We birthed this vision with sustainability and equity as core to our mission,” she said in a press release. “We are just one small player in a collective vision for a sovereign and resilient local food system for West Michigan.”

The award was provided to South East Market Oct. 5 during the West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum’s Triple Bottom Line Bash at the Peter Martin Wege Theatre.

“So much is possible if we reinvest appropriately and center our local communities in our decisions around profitability,” DeWitt said. “We hope this award ignites further startups and shows them the value of a community working in tandem to lean into the risk and push forward with their values for a sustainable future rooted in equity for generations beyond us to enjoy the bounty of Earth and the people around us.”

Other organizations honored during the event include:

  • Hispanic Center of Western Michigan: The center “empowers more than 20,000 individuals to support themselves and the Hispanic community each year from its headquarters in the Roosevelt Park neighborhood, the largest Latino neighborhood in the region. In addition to its efforts to address racial inequity and support local immigrants, the center is a zero-storm water site and has worked to promote environmental sustainability in the Hispanic community through its green team.”
  • Hope College: The college “has been a key player in the growth of sustainability on the Lakeshore and originated the city’s sustainability initiative. Campus staff has provided leadership within the state, supporting emerging programs at other schools. It is also innovating through the use of reusable food service materials.”
  • Meijer: The retailerthis year announced a three-year goal to reduce carbon emissions by 50%, while making major investments to address plastic pollution in the region, reduce food waste through new technology, increase the use of recycled content and eliminate PFAS from its products, engage its supply chain in sustainability and support green infrastructure. It also boasts the industry’s lowest refrigerant emissions and highest percentage of stores with EV charging.”
  • PADNOS: The company is “one of the state and country’s leading recycling firms, is accelerating the circular economy through its “Sustainability City “initiative, helping to redefine recyclability for local industry. It also this year invested in electric vehicles for its truck fleet, while maintaining a strong commitment to DEI.”
  • Volta Power Systems: The business “provides lithium-ion energy storage solutions for small to mid-size businesses. The young and rapidly growing company has eliminated thousands of fossil fuel-powered generators from mobile applications.”

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