Northgate Gonzalez Market Turns Vacant Lot into Fresh Foods and Jobs
2014-10-30 · By Editor
Long Beach elected officials joined community and civic leaders today to celebrate the grand opening of a new Northgate Gonzalez Market in North Long Beach with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The full-service supermarket — with its emphasis on produce, health & wellness, and quality—will increase access to fresh, healthy food for the underserved community. It also represents about 180 new full-time jobs with benefits on a previously blighted corner.
“I am very proud to welcome Northgate, a high-quality retailer, to our community,” Councilmember Al Austin said. “I am thrilled to see the addition of over 180 new jobs to our community and I would like to congratulate the Gonzalez family for this great addition to Uptown Long Beach.”
The premier and traditionally-Hispanic supermarket has made a conscious effort to bring expanded healthy offerings to its customers in recent years. This 51,000 square foot market is one of the Company’s largest, and will house expanded healthy alternatives from fresh juices to bulk foods like nuts, dried fruits, spices, and hundreds of items throughout the store. As part of its commitment to health, Northgate provides an array of healthy shopping alternatives and other health and wellness education and services through its own program called “Viva La Salud.” This program brings free education and services to its stores and communities in the form of chefs, nutritionists, medical screenings, and product-identification that helps families pursue healthier lifestyles.
The new supermarket also represents an economic development victory for the City of Long Beach. A previously blighted lot and vacant building have been redeveloped with a retailer known for colorful foods, tiles, and facades that have been lacking. Perhaps more importantly, there are new jobs for this working class community.
Northgate Gonzalez Market partnered with the City of Long Beach and community partners to execute an aggressive local hiring plan and a commitment to local, diverse, and at-risk hiring. The market will represent more than 180 new jobs in North Long Beach. 86% of all new hires are local to the immediate zip codes, and represent the community’s diversity. These jobs are mostly full-time with benefits. Local workforce agencies also brought resources to bear to extend on-the-job training resources to improve the skills and readiness of new hires.
As part of an ongoing partnership, Northgate also partnered with Homeboy Industries to train its clients and source applicants for supermarket jobs. Graduates of the Homeboy program have found employment at this new supermarket, as well as at Northgate’s highly successful South Los Angeles location that opened in April. Founded by Father Greg Boyle, Homeboy Industries serves high-risk, formerly gang-involved men and women.
At the end of the day, the market must succeed in the neighborhood. Northgate has made efforts to connect to community organizations in advance of the opening, as reflected by the grand opening attendees. Situated in an ethnically and economically diverse neighborhood, the supermarket is aware it must appeal to many types of customers. For example, the large market built out expanded Floral, Plant, and Prepared Foods sections to serve families who visit adjacent Cherry Park, as well as All Souls and Forest Lawn cemeteries.
“The Gonzalez family is delighted to bring a supermarket with high quality products to the North Long Beach community,” said Northgate Gonzalez Market President Miguel Gonzalez. “We are a local business, and it is our values that help us build community wherever we open a store. We are proud to invest in Long Beach, and are eager to bring our neighbors an exceptional shopping experience.”
Northgate Markets is a family-owned chain of supermarkets started by the Gonzalez family in 1980. The family lives, and the company is headquartered, in Southern California. This is the family’s third, and largest, supermarket in the City of Long Beach.