Originally published in The Weekly Packet, July 6, 2017
Blue Hill Co-op works to close investment gap
A design of the planned new Blue Hill Co-op store on South Street will have parking for more than 70 vehicles, indoor/outdoor seating for 88, and 6,700 square feet of retail space.
by Anne Berleant
In an investment campaign to raise $1 million toward a planned new store on South Street, the Blue Hill Co-op has raised $315,500 from 89 of its 1,600 members, including $101,000 from 34 members since a May 23 mailing. The investments are offered through Fund-ME, a crowdfunding source offered through the Maine Office of Securities, designed to allow small businesses to raise up to $1 million from Maine investors within a one-year period. The co-op’s deadline for raising $500,000 through Fund-ME is August 16.
“We need the participation of all co-op member-owners to make this happen, and especially our year-round residents,” General Manager Kevin Gadsby said in a news release. “The response has been great.”
The Blue Hill Co-op is the first small business to use Fund-ME as a platform to raise money for business growth. “Blue Hill Co-op is just the type of small business seeking to grow that Fund-ME is intended to assist,” Maine Office of Securities Administrator Judith Shaw said in a press release issued after the campaign began last August.
If the $500,000 goal is reached, investment offerings will be filed in the states where the co-op has received the most interest from co-op members, Gadsby said. Until the August 16 deadline, investments are being held in a deposit account. Under Fund-ME regulations, if the $500,000 goal is not met the funds will be returned to investors.
“This is precisely why we’re pushing the August 16 deadline,” Gadsby said. “If we do not reach our goal, it will be a huge setback to the process. It would send a clear message from the co-op community of a lack of confidence in the relocation effort.”
The co-op mailed investment materials to its member-owners on May 23, raising over $100,000 in six weeks. The co-op’s total membership-owner fundraising goal is $1 million, according to its business plan, with construction on the South Street store to begin in late 2018.
The Blue Hill Co-op opened in 1975 and has grown to $3 million in annual sales. In 2016, the co-op purchased more than $766,000 worth of goods from Maine producers, up 6 percent from 2015, and added its most new member-owners in a one-year period, 277. For information on investments, call Gadsby at 374-2165 or visit bluehill.coop
Editor’s note: Updated on July 7 to clarify when and from how many co-op members the $315,000 has been raised, and the amount ($500,000) that must be raised by August 16.