An expert in neighborhood scale development and the revitalization of urban commercial and retail assets, James Johnson-Piett, principal and CEO of Urbane Development, provides technical assistance, program development, and thought leadership to a wide range of clients and partners working to strengthen underserved communities. During his tenure, Urbane has worked with over 150 retailers and other institutions throughout the US and abroad. Currently, James serves on the board of directors of the Community Food Security Coalition, is a co-convener of the Healthy Corner Stores Network, and is an advisory council member for the USDA Healthy Urban Food Enterprise Development program.
- Urbane Development designed the Green Grocer Project, the first municipal-based food retail attraction program for the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation in 2009, which includes a revolving loan fund, dedicated technical assistance resources, and streamlined entitlement processes for Detroit-based supermarkets and other food retailers. GGP has disseminated over one million dollars in loans and grants in underserved Detroit markets, as well as attracted two supermarkets to Detroit.
- Co-convener of the Healthy Corner Store Network, a consortium of 600+ retailers, organizations, and advocates working to increase the availability of healthy and affordable foods in small, neighborhood markets in underserved communities.
- Initiated Small Grocer Program pilot project with City of Newark and Brick City Development Corporation to retrofit four neighborhood corner stores throughout the city. Over $150,000 in loans and grants conferred in first round, with additional funding awarded to BCDC for additional store retrofits.
- Creation of Little Things Candy Store – a project of Lantern Organization in New York City – which offers kosher, international, and nostalgic candies and sweets in Brooklyn, while providing workforce training opportunities for Lantern’s special needs clients.
- Launched the Bodega Bootcamp™ that offers retailers, communities, and funders across the US a crash course in developing a sustainable grocery business model focused on the “grocer as change-agent” model of store operations and marketing.
- "New guide will help L.E.S. shoppers get by without Pathmark" - The Villager, November 2012
- "Convenience in the heart of your community" - The Ryersonian, October 2011
- "Brave New Bodegas" - The Atlantic, November 2010
- "Faces & Visions of the Food Movement: James Johnson-Piett" - Civil Eats, May 2010
- "Bringing Healthy Foods to Inner Cities" - Here and Now on 90.9 WBUR NPR Boston, January 2010
- "Success Stories in Restoring Urban and Rural Communities with Healthy Food" - Community Food Security Coalition, October 2008