By, Oscar González, Chief Operating Officer, Northgate González Markets
Northgate González Markets is a family-owned chain of supermarkets located in the Los Angeles and San Diego metropolitan areas. Sometimes referred to as the “Hispanic Whole Foods,” our stores offer a range of high quality products, prepared foods, and specialty services, like tortillerias, that cater specifically to Latino communities. Together, the stores provide jobs with excellent benefits to more than 4,900 Californians.
Miguel González, Sr. opened the first Northgate market in Anaheim, California in 1980, after the shoe store he’d owned for years in Mexico was destroyed in a fire. He kept the name of the just-purchased store Northgate, as he didn’t have the funds to buy a new sign. Today, there are 36 Northgate González stores located throughout southern California, and more than 45 of our family members continue to work at the stores.
In 2010-2011, we entered a new phase of our company’s growth with the development of a 385,000 square foot headquarters and distribution center, a new store opening, the development of an additional store location, and an investment in a third store site. Though we were ready for a period of managed growth and had a history of strong financial management and operations, our existing financing facilities were close to capacity.
We approached NCB Capital Impact because we had heard about the California FreshWorks Fund, a $270 MM fund, including New Markets Tax Credits, that is dedicated to expanding access to healthy foods in under-served areas throughout California – something our company is also dedicated to. NCB Capital Impact helped us to acquire New Markets Tax Credits financing for two new stores in 2012 – Northgate Inglewood and Northgate City Heights. Together, these stores provide access to fresh foods for more than 200,000 people, many of whom are low-income; and they provide full-time jobs with paid time-off, healthcare benefits, and retirement benefits for more than 250 local residents.
Our Inglewood store was developed on the site of another supermarket that shut down several years ago. When First Lady Michelle Obama toured the site in 2012, she commented on how the new Northgate supermarket would help neighborhood parents: “If they want to pick up a head of lettuce to make a salad, they shouldn’t have to get on a bus.”
Our City Heights store is located in a dense, ethnically diverse neighborhood in San Diego, California that also previously lacked a full-service supermarket. Today, our store provides healthy food access to more than 110,000 neighborhood residents, and provides high quality, full-time jobs for 150 people. Both of the Inglewood and City Heights stores would not have been possible without the New Markets Tax Credit financing provided by NCB Capital Impact, Chase Bank, and US Bancorp.