Billionaire owner of Gristedes, John Catsimatidis, had banded together with other grocers in outrage over the $130 million subsidy that FreshDirect is expected to receive from the city. According to DNA Info, the group claims that the subsidy is a poor use of funds and places small business owners at a competitive disadvantage. Catsimatidis, New York Association of Grocery Stores, the National Supermarket Association and the Bodega Association all complained that FreshDirect tricked the city by threatening to move operations to NJ. Catsimatidis said, “I am opposed to using my tax money, and the tax money of all of the smaller and struggling food retailers in NYC, to fund a competitor.”
In return for the tax breaks,grants, and loans FreshDirect agreed to remain in NY. The company also promised to invest $112.6 million to build a headquarters at the Harlem River Yards and create 1,000 new jobs. The group of grocers organizations are also annoyed with the $18.9 million in tax credits awarded to FreshDirect through the Excelsior Jobs Program, which is meant for technology and manufacturing firms. The biggest worry for the grocery coalition is that FreshDirect threatens the existence of small, unsubsidized groceries in NY.
The coalition and a Bronx group opposed to FreshDirect’s relocation plan to hold a press conference today at City Hall to speak about their objections to the subsidy, which still needs final approval. FrshDirect has stated that the subsidy will help them create jobs and stimulate the local economy.