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Nov. 2 meeting notes

Nov.2, 2014

Ron Kidder led Cheryal Hills on a tour of the Ideal Green Market Co-op.

3:20 p.m. meeting began with Ron Kidder, Mary Plein, and Dan Yavner, John Plein, Loyal Hoag, and Tom Johnson in attendance.

Dan) Handed out a first draft summary of our By Laws Financial Components: Accounting and Business Controls; Distribution of Surplus; Tax Consent; Patronage Dividends; Unclaimed Distributions; Losses; Dissolution and Property Interest of Members; Capital Stock and Surplus.

Dan detailed his thinking/strategy regarding a few elements and highlighted others.

Loyal) asked what is the Patronage %?

Ron) discussed detail on acct of capital funds and gave some examples for clarification. Ron likes the idea of giving the member a discounted price on purchases at the co-op.

Cheryal Hills) Was asked to discuss opportunities and resources for helping us get the IGM Co-op started. Cheryal first mentioned the large amount of activity and interest in our region for the sustainable food businesses. SproutMN is an aggregator, has 45 growers which gets food to 6 schools, 2 hospitals and several resturants.

Cheryal has been working on a project, it began in 2007, addressing supply & demand. They did a biz plan and then a feasibility study for a food processing center in Little Falls (old Crestliner building). First indoor Farmer's Market with a commercial kitchen and they can host demos for food prep education. Growers can lease space. The processing facility got started with $600,000, of that $100,000 for 3 employees.

Arlene Jones at Sprout MN, LLC deals in aggregate and distribution. Hunt Utilities Group (HUG) is good at research.

Cheryal discussed how every recipe of every product intended for retail sale made in a processing kitchen requires FDA approval and gets certified. The processing facility has a certified kitchen and having a compliance officer on-site, will also offer certified training to help access for all size local growers to training in many areas of food prep/preserving: freezing, canning, fresh commodities. They are not dealing with dairy.

Arlene Jones built a small volume processing (at St. Mathias Farm?) And offers business training.

Eventually there will be a need for facilities to 'incubate' recipes before they get approved.

Ron) Commented that this all sounds great. And a bit overwhelming to take it all in and decipher what we can use for IGM Co-op. It's a much larger scale view than we are looking at.

Loyal) asked CHeryal if there is money available for funding and Cheryal replied, "Yes, Lots."

Cheryal) there are dollars available for creating business plans and for starting up. She suggested we track all 'in-kind' vs. 'cash match' work that anyone does for IGM. Get someone on the board (or advisory board) who can write for grant applications.

Dan) We need legal and accounting work

CH) Too late now, but maybe plan for next year's grant app to MN Dept. of Ag "Value Added Grant Program". It requires in-kind dollars from community sources.

Do a Feasibility study to start the business plan. Don't ever hesitate to go after grant dollars if we don't have a match...there are always connections for match dollars within our region/community.

Go on field trips to other co-ops. Contact, bring in grocers and ask for help as a mentor.

Board biz, get a manager; learn from other models

Finish up Market prep of the store facility; get on that biz plan; find/select our food/product sources (local foods, ag rescue & gleaning, prepared food rescue, food security-child hunger issues). Ag rescue: food (which otherwise goes to waster thru lack of labor to harvest) out of fields and into stores. Vista 2015-gleaning could come here. Funding is available for 'gleaning sites' that IGM Co-op could either sell or give (we could evolve to that if not give away right away). Gleaning: students do the picking in fall. Vermont is gleaning yearround now.

Barry Thole (sp?) - lettuce

MN Dept. of Ag has funding to help our building. Seed - feed the hungry, Nutritional education.

USDA has grant dollars - but these are harder to write. Rural Development, Energy Program, In-Fill Project.

An alternative to full-paid employees right away, consider bringing in AmeriCORPS VISTA members to work.

Resilient Region Plan: this region has preferred sustainability points.

Build in added value - indoor chef and Nutrition class demos.

National Joint Powers Assoc.: submit a 2-pg application next year to them.
- Econ growers
- In-Fill
- Revitalization, food security issues
- if we can get local food

Free to us - Extension Educator
Julie Anderholm, at CLC. To write a biz plan. Free help.

RK) Again, all great advice but these tangent directions can be distracting, we need to focus.

CH) Talk to Arlene Jones, she can advise on food sources. Jessie Borkenhagen will be Sprout MN food hub manager, she can also be a contact to meet with. Get started with the business plan and outreach marketing. Cheryal advised against including too much of the nitty-gritty financial details in the By Laws, but rather, have that in an 'Operations Manual', as the ByLaws are meant to be read & comprehended by average readers and we don't want to overwhelm readers.

Create the organization, get the board elected, get the biz plan going (Julie Anderholm can help us), bring in Arlene and/or Jessie, prioritize what we want to fund first: make a list.

RK) Mentioned the Azure Club - no benefit to any of us other than the exposure and attraction between IGM Co-op and potential customers, volunteers, members. Also hopeful it will continue to attract younger people from the community.

CH) Check into the Food Co-op Association (we have). Agreed that sometimes they (Region Five Dev. Commission) can go too fast for org's and we have to set a pace that is at our speed.

Univ. of MN Central Region Partnership: another source for help, education, information. Cheryal expects there to be a couple more meetings at least. Sandy Voigt (sp?) is a part of this group?

CH) Try get some younger board members. :-) We all agreed on that!

John Plein, Cheryal Hills, Ron Kidder) Do a 'quicky' biz plan with Julie Anderholm at CLC just to get funding started, get some operational funding and then we can evolve the business plan to be more fine-tuned to our vision.

RK) Has a figure of $50,000 to start. Cheryal Hills thinks a bigger figure will be more realistic.

Group asked for advice regarding getting an attorney and CPA to help us get started with ByLaws, Finances, Business Plan, etc. CH mentioned Chris Robinson, he works with the Economic Development Group (Kidders know him so they will contact him.) And BLADC has a group of retired CEO's that are looking for ways to participate in their communities - contact them.
(NOTE: in fact they are meeting for an informal chat soon.
" Our retired business executives have a wealth of information to share with the Brainerd Lakes community and will be available to anyone having business questions. Come in, grab a cup of coffee, pull up a chair, and chat with them for awhile!
Questions on all business subjects are welcomed and encouraged during this casual 'chat'.
Northwind Grille, 603 Laurel Street, Brainerd, MN. 9:00am-10:15am)

CH) Board business:
- get an Advisory Group
- get diversity on the board (age, gender, economic diversity)
- get mentors
- Julie Engleman (sp?) - a good designer

Group thanked Cheryal for her time, we traded biz cards and said our 'Minnesota Goodbyes' before 5:30 p.m.

 

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