Lombard food co-op to launch second round of fundraising

  • Prairie Food Co-op aims to build DuPage County's first community-owned grocery store at 109 S. Main St. in Lombard. But it still needs to raise $2.2 million to pay for the construction.

    Prairie Food Co-op aims to build DuPage County's first community-owned grocery store at 109 S. Main St. in Lombard. But it still needs to raise $2.2 million to pay for the construction. Courtesy of Prairie Food Co-op

 
 
Updated 9/17/2021 5:11 PM

A group hoping to open a community-owned grocery store in downtown Lombard is facing a fast-approaching deadline to raise $2.2 million.

Lombard-based Prairie Food Co-op is aiming to raise a total of $4.4 million by Nov. 15. It's to fully fund the construction of a bricks-and-mortar store at 109 S. Main St.

 

"We really need to have that funding in place in order to keep that site," said Kathy Nash, the president and a co-founder of Prairie Food Co-op. "We're asking people to invest in this Main Street business."

Last February, Prairie Food Co-op signed a 10-year lease on an under-construction property with Holladay Properties. The Indiana-based developer is constructing the planned 10,000-square-foot store and a mixed-use 115-unit luxury apartment building near Lombard's Metra station.

Prairie Food Co-op raised more than $1 million this past spring, and a $1.2 million loan is currently being underwritten. But Prairie Food Co-op could contractually be booted off its lease if it doesn't raise the entire $4.4 million.

The second round of fundraising for the remaining $2.2 million will begin later this month. There's also an official launch party from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 1, at Afterthought Brewing Company at 218 E. St. Charles Road in Lombard.

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Prairie Food Co-op currently boasts more than 1,500 community owners throughout DuPage County. An owner can buy into the co-op with a minimum of $200.

"If every one of our owners invested $2,000 in this project in our second funding phase, we would meet that goal," Nash said. "Of course, we know that not everybody has the ability to invest $2,000, so we're relying on those who have the capacity to invest more."

Since DuPage County is considered an affluent community, Nash said Prairie Food Co-op cannot apply for many grants that are available for areas deemed "low-income" or in "food deserts." Still, she said, they are looking into other sources and working with local village and county leaders.

"The mission of the co-op is to support local farmers and producers who are doing things organically and sustainably," Nash said. "Illinois has some of the best farmland in the world, and yet fewer than 5% of the products we buy are grown or made here. So there's a huge opportunity to grow that sector and keep more of the money in Illinois and our local economy."

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