The year is almost over, and that means it’s time for my annual grab bag column. Much like the lunches I just had over the recent holiday weekend, the assorted tidbits and details should make a full meal. Enjoy!
New Board Leadership
At the November meeting of your board of directors, we elected new officers and realigned some of our committee leadership. Here are the new or updated roles:
Tom Wickersham, President
Andrew Morse, Vice president
Jess Cruz, Secretary
Scott Wirtz, Treasurer
Brenna Griffin, Membership Chair
Jess Cruz, Communications Chair
Scott Wirtz, Finance Chair
Terry Stewart, Operations Chair
Andrew Morse, Capital Campaign Chair
Okay, so on that last item, the newly formed Capital Campaign Committee is a critical part of our work in Stage 3. And I’m very excited about this team’s work so far. Sometime in the first half of next year, this group will lead efforts to raise a significant amount of funds needed to open our doors – roughly 45% of the total amount needed to buy shelving, install coolers, and stock the store. This team will have more details out soon about how this will work, but it boils down to this one fundamental concept: existing member-owners will have the opportunity to invest in the start up of the Cedar Falls Food Co-op. Watch this space for details!
Meanwhile, our Operations Team is busy with numerous tasks, but two of them stand out as significant. One of them is the site selection process (see the next paragraph for more details), but the other is gearing up to hire a general manager. About one year before we open the doors, the board of directors will begin the transition from a working board (without pay, of course!) to a governing board, by hiring a general manager, who will, in turn, hire her or his staff to run the operations of the store. With all the start-up food co-ops underway right now (over 100!), the committee is working hard to get a jump start on the hiring process to ensure we have the best candidates for the position.
The leadership of the Cedar Falls Food Co-op understands how critical it is to find the right location for our grocery store. I’m very pleased with the due diligence work currently underway by our Operations Team to ensure we have the best possible location for the store. While the goal has always been the same – in or near downtown Cedar Falls – the number of variables is surprisingly large in part because we are considering all options at this point: buying, renting, or building from the ground up. Once a site is selected, we will most certainly make a big announcement about that, but until then, all considerations and negotiations will be kept confidential.
Your Co-op leadership team continues to take full advantage of all the consultants and learning opportunities available to us. Members of the board and committees continue to participate in a monthly Co-op Peer call in which we learn from and exchange ideas with three other start-up food co-ops: New Leaf Food Co-op in Green Bay, WI, Food Shed Co-op in Woodstock, IL, and Wild Root Market in Racine, WI. In addition, we work with Food Cooperative Initiative as well as CDS Consulting Co-op. Lastly, we’ve been fortunate to send members to attend two annual food co-op conferences each year: Small & Strong in Bloomington, MN, and Up & Coming in Milwaukee. I know our leadership team is developing the necessary skills to not only open our community grown grocery store, but to ensure that is runs well after opening day.
Kudos to our Membership Team for all their hard work in recruiting new member-owners. Our growth rate continues to be strong, helping us get closer to opening day sooner. Our Finance Team is working on lots of back end items, while also having meetings with area banks. One of our sources of start-up capital will come from a traditional bank loan, so we’re getting things ready for that important step. And, if you haven’t heard yet, our Communications Team has worked with a local company to offer you an array of Co-op gear. These will make great gifts for the holiday season!
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy holidays!