The past couple of months have been focused on our member loan campaign. Very few start-up co-op's like us launch a member loan campaign without a site. Having said that, our board felt is was important to move forward and try to raise the capital needed without a delay in our development. We reached about half of our goal and have shifted our focus to selecting a site.
Anyone who lives in the area knows that the market in Bismarck-Mandan has been impacted by fast-paced growth due to the influx of oil development in western ND. This has driven up the cost of retail spaces and has forced us to work quickly when we find a site that we think might fit our needs. Membership has slowed a bit but our focus is to continue to build the number of member-owners while educating our existing members on the importance of principle #3, member economic participation. This means our current members have an opportunity to invest further in their co-op by providing a member loan or purchasing preferred equity. Having our member-owners contribute to the capital of their co-op is a cornerstone in food co-op financing.
We have managed to meet half of our goal but know that once we can announce a site we will have more members interested in investing. We are grateful to all our members who have supported us and we are looking forward to 2015! Our next steps are to locate a site, sign a lease, advertise for our General Manager, and begin working on renovation of our store. Good things ahead!