Success Story

Boosting Healthy Food Solutions Where They're Needed Most

November 20, 2023

In Ballard Spahr’s most recent pro bono representation of The Common Market, lawyers from the firm’s Business and Transactions Department advised on a strategic merger that extends the nonprofit’s network of healthy food hubs to the Greater Chicago area.

Helping bring the merger to fruition is the latest example of Ballard Spahr’s longtime support of The Common Market, dating back more than a decade, as part of a firm-wide social responsibility focus on hunger and sustainable food. Over the years, the firm has undertaken significant pro bono legal engagements for The Common Market—and has made a long-term financial commitment to the organization through a special tax program in Philadelphia.

In late October 2023, The Common Market closed on its acquisition of Local Foods, a well-established Chicagoland local food wholesaler. The transaction represents a significant step forward in advancing the cause of local, sustainable food in areas lacking in such choices, while creating a more resilient regional food supply chain. The Ballard Spahr team that advised The Common Market on the acquisition was led by Kimberly W. Klayman and included David Goroff and Kelly M. Duffner.

The Common Market was founded in Philadelphia in 2008 and has expanded its wholesale food distribution efforts to serve the Mid-Atlantic, the Southeast, and Texas, in addition to the Chicago/Great Lakes area, with its integration of Local Foods. Ballard Spahr’s previous pro bono work includes advising on acquisition of a warehouse facility in Atlanta, which helped the organization expand operations in the Southeast.

The firm’s support for The Common Market also includes a long-term financial contribution through the City of Philadelphia’s Community Development Corporation Tax Credit program, which rewards city-based businesses that contribute to economic development efforts in distressed areas of Philadelphia.

A business that successfully applies for inclusion in the program commits to contributing to a “qualifying organization” annually for 10 consecutive years. One specific type of qualifying organization is a nonprofit “engaged in developing and implementing healthy food initiatives.” The sponsoring business receives credits against city business taxes.

In this way, Ballard Spahr contributed $850,000 a year to The Common Market for 10 years ending in 2022. The firm and The Common Market were recently accepted into the program for an additional 10 years, with firm contributions of $100,000 per year.

“Ballard has been integral to our success and growth, and for that we are eternally grateful,” said Haile Johnston, Co-CEO of The Common Market. “The firm has really made a difference helping us make a difference. And I applaud the City of Philadelphia for its innovative tax credit program, which rewards firms like Ballard Spahr for contributing to bringing healthy food solutions to areas of the city that need them most.”

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