Food co-op kicks off investment campaign
MANCHESTER – On May 9, The Manchester Food Co-op officially launched a capital investment campaign with the goal of raising $1.5 million by June 30 in an effort to assist the Co-op with signing a long-term lease for space in Bedford which is currently owned and operated by Associated Grocers of New England.
The Manchester Food Co-op has plans to take the current Harvest Market and transform it into a new 100 percent community-owned store. Shoppers will be able to enjoy local, organic and sustainable food and products, as well as benefit from a lineup of continuous educational and community programs.
"This really is a critical step for us," said Sarah-Marie Cole, board president of the Manchester Food Co-op. "We need to raise these funds to cover startup costs and the working capital necessary in the first few years of business. With projected profitability in our third year, our
member-owners should be really excited about this investment opportunity. We are taking an existing business with a loyal customer base combined with a proven successful location. If we were more than double the total capital needs."
Coinciding with the investment campaign, the Manchester Food Co-op is seeking 1,000 new member-owners. "The additional member-owner
investment will give us the people power that we need to succeed," Cole said. "In order to invest, you must be a member so realistically this is a
member-owner campaign and an investment campaign at the same time. For those of us who want this store, we will all have to invest to make it happen – one way or the other."
The Manchester Food Co-op is thanking early investors for their support toward their investment campaign. The Co-op hosted a member-owner informational session on May 19 to help explain the options available to investors. One husband-wife,
member-owner duo stepped forward and invested $10,000. Goffstown residents, Terrie and Marc Bourque presented their check to Heather Avella, Manchester Food-Coop project manager.
Avella explains the two options available to investors are; "We are offering our member-owners the option of either investing in preferred shares or through member loans. Preferred shares give member-owners dividend producing shares (or stock) in the Manchester Food Co-op and these investments are equity for the store.
Each share costs $100 and a minimum of ten shares must be purchased.
Dividend returns for preferred shares range from 3-5 percent based on the total number of shares purchased." Avella added that 150
member-owners purchasing an average of $5,000 of shares will reach the preferred shares goal of $750,000.
"A second option is member-owner loans," said Avella, "These loans typically have a lower interest rate than bank financing, so borrowing from our
member-owners now enables us to avoid taking on too much high-interest debt early on in our operations. Member loans begin at $2,000 with an interest rate up to 3.5 percent based on the size of the loan. We need 150 members to make an average of $5,000 loan to hit our goal of $750,000 in member loans. Member investment is the tried and true method that food co-ops use nationally to raise the capital to open doors. It is the cooperative principle of economic participation."
The Manchester Food Co-op needs this start-up capital in order to secure the long-term lease from Associated Grocers of New England at its Harvest Market site in Bedford. The Food Co-op will transform this location into a new 100% community-owned store. Shoppers will be able to enjoy local, organic and sustainable food and products, as well as benefit from a lineup of continuous educational and community programs.
For more information or to request a member investment packet please email or call Heather Avella, Manchester Food Co-op’s Project Manager at at Investments@manchesterfood.coop or by calling 305-6340. More information about the Co-op can be found at www.manchesterfood.coop.
Patrick Neily named general manager
The Manchester Food Co-op recently hired Patrick Neily as general manager. Neily, a New Hampshire native, has returned to the Granite State from Northfield, Minnesota where he was the general manager of a local food cooperative there.
Closer to home, Neily’s experience included an 11-year career at the Hanover Consumer Cooperative Society in Hanover. Neily is the first full-time paid staff person for the Co-op which for the past two years has been led by a volunteer board of directors. The Co-op also recently contracted Heather Avella of Bedford as the Co-op’s project manager to oversee the Co-op’s Investment campaign.
"Patrick’s hiring signifies another milestone for the Manchester Food Co-op," says Sarah-Marie Cole, board president of the Manchester Food Co-op. "We recently launched a $1.5 million Investment campaign which is needed to raise funds to cover startup costs and the working capital necessary to obtain a long-term lease for our first store. Patrick has extensive experience with managing and operating food cooperatives. His expertise will help get our first store operational and we couldn’t be more excited about Patrick joining our team."
"The Manchester Food Co-op creates synergy in the community between our members and the network of local businesses that supports us," said Patrick Neily, General Manager, Manchester Food Co-op. "I’m proud to be associated with an organization that offers fresh, healthy, wholesome food that is locally produced. We are improving access to good, healthy food in southern New Hampshire by offering fairly priced, organic products. I’m excited that I can participate and make an impact in the community."
About the Manchester Food Co-op
The Manchester Co-op is a Member-Owned food cooperative. The Co-op has more than 1,300 member-owners from throughout southern New Hampshire to include; Manchester, Bedford, Goffstown, Amherst, Merrimack, Derry, Nashua and Hooksett and the number of member-owners joining the Co-op continues to grow daily. Our mission is to sell and promote the best local foods and products including produce, meat and grocery items as well as bulk foods and health-care products. But we are much more than a grocery store; our Co-op’s impact and goals are far-reaching. We will engage the public in a dialogue about healthy and sustainable living through community programs including workshops, cooking classes and other educational resources.