It’s very good news that in the near future a tribal-owned grocery store will be built north of the Ute Mountain Ute casino and powwow grounds along U.S. Highway 49 in Towaoc. The grocery will easily reduce the number of trips into Cortez, 15 miles away.
American Rescue Plan funding of $2.9 million will make the grocery possible, at least its first phase, with funding for the second phase to follow. Phase 1 will consist of shipping containers, which is unusual, but means that the grocery in limited form will be under construction and open by the end of 2023, two years earlier than the $12 million completed Phase 2.
One container will be dedicated to economic and entrepreneurship programs, and up to 30 jobs – with a preference for tribal members – will be created in the overall project, which is significant.
The containers will be incorporated into the final project.
We’re especially excited about a preliminary plan for a greenhouse at the tribal farm for the store, and the possibility to source locally grown produce, meats and related products that will boost the agricultural economy and perhaps create food-related startups.
As reported in The Journal, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe Planner Bernadette Cuthair said, “It is especially gratifying to have our own food source, that security is really important.”
Besides tribal members and grocery employees, near-by property owners and RV travelers will find the grocery handy.
We look forward to the grocery’s initial ribbon cutting, perhaps just a year from now.