The organizers of what would be the community’s first co-op grocery story, Green Top Grocery, has to raise a total of $600,000 by February 29th. The organization still has about $450,000 to go. During GLT's Sound Ideas, Green Top Grocery Board Chair Melanie Shellito told Mike McCurdy, owner loans are continuing to come in at a steady pace.
The ownership share dollars and owner loans are needed as collateral to secure a loan by the end of the month to keep the desired location a long the Constitution Trail at Washington Street, and retain promised tax abatements from the City of Bloomington. The coop has already surpassed $1-million in owner loans, but needs the additional funds to finish its fundraising.
"Do I think we've hit the ceiling on people who appreciate this (business) model? No, I don't," said Shellito. "I constantly hear from people, multiple times a day. I run into people who say 'I really need to do it; I just haven't done it yet.' They believe in it."
Shellito said if the fundraising goal is missed, a series of dominoes fall. If the group is short on equity -- or the money from owners and owner loans -- Green Top may not be able to close on the loan. If they don't get the loan, they could lose the lease on space in a development planned along the trail. If the lease is lost the organization runs the risk of losing tax abatements from the City of Bloomington.
Shellito said the developer might hold the space for Green Top and she said Green Top could enter into further negotiation with the lender if the cooperative comes close to the the $600,000 goal. However she said it could be far easier to simply meet the goal.
"This is one of those things that's needed. A coop is needed," said Shellito. "Just recently we heard a talk from Charlie Moore (President and CEO of the McLean County Chamber of Commerce) and Kyle Ham with the Economic Development Council who said young people don't get a job and move to a community, they find a community they like and they get a job. With Millennials in particular, a food coop changes the conversation of what a community is like. This is a community who gets things done for itself."
On Thursday owners have an opportunity to meet the coop's recently selected General Manager. The Meet the GM event is at 5 PM at the Launch Pad in Bloomington.