Support Lombard co-op with online vote
There is still a lot of work to be done before the Prairie Food Co-Op opens in Lombard, but its supporters hope a grant might help speed things up.
Co-founder and Director Kathy Nash said the co-op applied for a $100,000 Mission Main Street grant earlier this month. Twenty of the grants, which are funded by Chase, will be awarded to small businesses nationwide in September.
"Right now we're really limited by the fact that we're an all-volunteer organization," Nash said. "(Receiving a grant) would really open up the possibility for us to move along more quickly."
Food cooperatives look similar to a traditional grocery stores, with sections for produce, frozen products, meat and dairy. The products, however, are mostly locally produced, organic and natural foods selected by co-op owners.
To be considered for a Mission Main Street grant, applicants must receive 250 votes. Nash said the co-op already has reached that goal, but more votes would help make the co-op "look like a stronger organization." Voting ends June 19 at missionmainstreetgrants.com.
"If we get a large number of votes, it will certainly make the folks reviewing the application stand up and notice the support we have," Nash said.
The co-op has applied to other grants, too, through the Food Co-op Initiative and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Nash said any amount of grant money could help pay for necessities that will arise as the co-op comes closer to opening, such as the leasing of a small office space or hiring a marketing company.
But with or without grant money, the co-op is moving forward. In recent months the number of owners has grown to about 350, and Nash is hopeful that number could hit 400 this summer. A market study was completed in February, which confirmed that Lombard is a good location for a food co-op.
Three ideal locations for the co-op were identified in the market study, and one has been recommended as the preferred site, but Nash said that information will remain confidential until lease negotiations begin. Those negotiations, she said, will not start until the co-op has at least 600 owners.
In the meantime, the co-op is working to complete a pro forma financial statement that will outline how much money it needs to raise to successfully run for the next 10 years. The development of a business plan also will begin soon.
"There's so much going on," Nash said, adding that volunteers are regularly putting about 100 hours worth of work into the co-op's plans each week.
The co-op will be sponsoring the Cruise Nights Kids Corner on June 27 and hosting an ice cream social in Villa Park on July 12. Anyone interested in speaking with some co-op owners to learn more about the proposal are welcome to attend.
For details on the events or information on the co-op, visit www.prairiefood.coop.