Originally published in The Weekly Packet, December 20, 2018
Co-op launches final crowdfunding phase as it nears overall goal
Construction under way
Workmen lay pipes during the early construction phase at the Blue Hill Co-op’s new store on South Street.
by Anne Berleant
With the goal of opening next summer, construction of the new Blue Hill Co-op has begun on South Street, with the foundation laid for the 11,988-square-foot store and work crews on site daily.
To help fund the $6 million total relocation cost, the Co-op is using crowdfunding source Fund-ME, offered through the Maine Office of Securities as a means for small businesses to raise funds from investors.
The Co-op launched its third and final Fund-ME campaign phase December 6. The first two rounds of member investments raised $1,458,310 towards a $2 million investment goal, the amount needed in order for the store to close a $3,965,000 loan package, said Co-op Manager Kevin Gadsby.
The first phase, from August 2016 to August 2017, sold $704,100 in preferred shares to Co-op members from Maine. The second phase, a private offering to out-of-state Co-op members, brought in $654,000.
“We have made tremendous progress,” Gadsby said. “Everything is on track and moving forward towards our goal of a summer 2019 grand opening.”
The Co-op, member-owned and open to everyone, offers organic food, a café, and natural household products and health and beauty aids. It will surpass $3 million in sales in 2018, Gadsby said, a 5 percent increase in growth and a “first for Blue Hill Co-op.”
The new store, with a huge jump in retail and office space, café seating and parking, will be the latest addition to South Street, which has seen its own leap in businesses building or relocating in the last five years, raising concerns in the community over pedestrian safety and access to businesses on South Street.
Blue Hill Community Development, a nonprofit group incorporated as a 501(c)(3) in early 2017, completed a grant application for sidewalks and other enhancements to South Street that the Blue Hill selectmen submitted to the Maine Department of Transportation. The $500,000 project proposal includes a $100,000 contribution from the town. This is the second year the town applied for the grant, after MDOT awarded no new projects in 2017.