Step 1   Forming the committees    

The steering committee will coordinate all tasks needed to move the co-op from its early stages through the establishment of more formal structures. Depending on the group’s time and resources, the committee may do the following tasks itself, or it may contract with outside consultants for professional assistance.

Specific Responsibilities (of the committee as a whole)

  •  Coordinate all research and information gathering
  •  Survey potential members
  •  Establish a membership structure and recruit members
  •  Oversee collection of market research and studies to determine the co-op’s feasibility
  •  Ensure completion of a feasibility study, including financial projections
  •  Explore options for financing and pursue initial inquiries with financing agencies
  •  Report on the committee’s progress to members and coordinate membership meetings as needed
  •  If initial research shows that a co-op is feasible, oversee preparation of a business plan
  •  Handle public relations, including inquiries from the media and publicity about the co-op’s accomplishments and progress


  • Planning Committee: Conducts the feasibility study, researches locations, handles real estate
    negotiations, coordinates operational planning (research on equipment, local regulations,
    suppliers, etc.), coordinates preparation of a business plan
  • Finance Committee: Develops financial projections, researches funding options, coordinates a campaign for member loans
  • Membership Committee: Researches membership structures, prepares membership administration
    paperwork, coordinates recruitment of new members, organizes membership communications
    (newsletters, websites, etc.) and meetings, surveys members, plans outreach to the community

Step 2   Forming a Vision statement and common Goal

We will have a long meeting with a core group of interested folks who can come together and form our vision statement

Step 3   Feasibility Study

We will have a feasibility study conducted to help us assess the viability of a food cooperative in Bismarck -Mandan. This will cost possibly $15,000- $20,000  so we will need to do an initial membership drive in order to raise the funds.

Step 4   Review Findings and Incorporate

Hold a meeting of potential members to report findings. Vote on whether or not to proceed. If the vote is
positive, vote to incorporate the co-op.

Goal : To present the report and findings of the steering committee. To decide whether or not the co-op makes sense and to gain the commitment of members to proceed. To formally begin the co-op and to accept the articles and bylaws (basic rules).

Step 5   Recruit Members

Hold meetings and prepare materials describing the co-op for new members. Establish member investment
options and conduct a member equity drive.

Goal: To secure the written and financial commitments of members
What to do: Set goals for how many members, how much equity, and how much in member loans the co-op needs to obtain by a certain deadline. Create an action plan to achieve those goals. Consider creating visual aids to show progress—in a newsletter, at an office, or on a website.

Step 6   Planning and Financing

Prepare a detailed business plan and research financing options. Identify possible locations and negotiate lease arrangements.

Goal: To prepare a specific and detailed business plan
What to do: At this stage, it is vital for your group to invest time and money in a detailed and thorough business plan.

Step 7   Secure Financing

Finalize outside financing sources and terms Goal: To obtain the funding necessary to finance the co-op’s start up and early stages

Step 8   Begin Operations

Hire a manager, acquire fixtures and equipment, finalize layout, establish accounts with suppliers, set up the store. Goal: To prepare for the start up of the co-op’s operations What to do: The business plan should be your guide on what to do at this stage.

Step 9   Grand Opening