Finally, after far too much cold and snow, we are beginning to experience the long-awaited beauty of spring. Everything is starting to come alive again and the East Aurora Cooperative Market is coming alive as well. Those of us who have been committed to the work of this project can say that we are beginning to see a glimpse of an emerging storefront and, after years of hard work, it is more exciting than ever.
Though there is much work ahead, we have made significant progress on many fronts in the last couple of months. We have grown to 795 member owners and we are very close to securing a site that will serve as an excellent location for our market. In addition to that, with your help we have started to lay the important groundwork for the capitalization of our store just in time to launch our campaign.
You, our member owners, are the foundation of our cooperative – and we don’t just need you, we need more of you! It is typical for start up cooperatives to gain many more members once a site is announced. We are counting on that to happen in East Aurora and you can help by spreading the word. We need to have 1,200 or more member owners by the time we open the doors. The concept is simple: the more member owners we have, the stronger our foundation and the more sustainable our store will be.
In the beginning of May, we hope to announce a site and begin our capital campaign. We are very happy to report that the amendment to our Articles of Incorporation were officially filed as of March 31, 2014. We could not have done it without you and want to thank those of you who were present at our special meeting to vote on the amendment back in February. This is a wonderful accomplishment that will allow us to create a much stronger financial picture to attract outside financing as we move forward to capitalize our project.
In the meantime, we are preparing for our capital campaign during which we hope to raise a large percentage of the funds necessary to open the store. The campaign will be brief, but intense. Our ability to open the store truly rests in your hands and we hope that you will do all you can to help reach our goal. The remaining capital for our store will come from local banks and cooperative entities that lend specifically to start-ups. Raising significant capital from our member owners through loans or preferred shares will increase the likelihood of procuring bank loans and reduce the amount of outside debt we incur.
Spring is here and the East Aurora Cooperative Market is ready to grow! Stay tuned to hear where it will be popping up. Help us gain strength by gathering more member owners and get ready to hear how you can help make our shared vision a reality.