Prairie Roots Food Co-op Says It's Fully Funded

Aiming for June 2017 Opening

FARGO -- A local food cooperative is fully funded and making progress toward opening a grocery store downtown this summer.

Prairie Roots Food Co-op officials announced at a news conference Thursday, Jan. 19, that its partners that have provided $1.386 million of commercial financing. That’s in addition to the $1.4 million raised in the community already through memberships, loans, preferred stock options and gifts, said General Manager Kurt Kopperud.

During the brief event at Lake Agassiz Development Group, 417 Main Ave., he said the “momentous day” celebrated the co-op becoming fully funded and financially ready to open its grocery store at 1213 NP Ave. after years of development.

Internal construction on the future store, which is located on the ground floor of the former Mathison’s building now owned by Kilbourne Group, began last week and should take about five months, Kopperud said. After that, a staff of about 30 will be trained for a few weeks and groceries will be stocked, putting Prairie Roots on track for an expected opening sometime in June.

Of the $1.386 million of commercial financing for the project, $575,000 is coming from primary lender Bell Bank, with an 80 percent guarantee of the loan from the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development.

“I believe that food brings a community together,” said Ryan Taylor, state director of USDA Rural Development in North Dakota. “I know that cooperatives bring community together.”

Taylor said the situation was “a little unique” for the agency, which primarily works in rural areas, not the downtown of North Dakota’s largest city. But it’s still a good fit for Rural Development, he said, because a “significant portion” of food cooperatives’ benefit goes to rural producers who supply locally grown food.

“We’ve seen that with other co-ops, not only in North Dakota and Minnesota, but around the country, and we are excited that it will be the same here,” he said.

Several other commercial financing partners or agencies that participated in securing financing are involved in the Prairie Roots project, including Lake Agassiz Development Group, the Rural Development Finance Corp., the North Dakota Opportunity Fund, CommunityWorks North Dakota, Shared Capital Cooperative and the Local Enterprise Assistance Fund.

It was a “complicated package” to put together, Kopperud said.

“It took some perseverance and it took a lot of cooperation, which is funny because we’re building a cooperative,” he said. “So in that spirit, we put together this loan package, and we’re really appreciative of all of our lending partners who really understand what our mission is for the co-op.”

While Prairie Roots is working to open a grocery store, Kopperud said its mission goes beyond that and is meant to be a “community service” for local producers and downtown residents who will benefit from the new business in Fargo.

By Ryan Johnson on Jan 19, 2017 



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