Chicago Market's 3rd Annual Meeting was held on Thursday, July 20.
Board President and Owner #3 Grant Kessler covered a "Year in Review" including progress on Ownership growth, site selection, funding & finance, and some important organizational development, including an evolved strategic mission & vision statement. He also reviewed the extraordinary work that came together across Chicago Market's volunteer organization and over 45 supporting community organizations, behind our bid for space at the CTA's renovated Wilson Station. This team effort gave us an impressively strong bid document, and has also renewed energy and excitement among current and prospective Owners. One clear sign of this energy: robust and creative discussion at the meeting! Many Owners shared their questions and ideas about how we can build on our momentum now to recruit more Owners and engage more volunteers.
Board members Dan Miller and Greg Berlowitz provided Owners with an update from the Site Selection team, sharing some more details about the Wilson bid and, should we succeed in getting the space, potential timing for construction and other next steps. Among these, we noted that we are committed to a 'design charrette' - allowing Owners and community stakeholders an opportunity for input into the actual store design and elements. Dan also noted that the Site team has actively continued to evaluate and move discussions forward with alternate sites in our trade area, so that our eggs are not all in one basket.
Board Vice President Emily Crespo discussed the upcoming Board elections and the voting process for new candidates. Many of the candidates were in attendance at the meeting, and Owners had an opportunity to meet them and chat with them in person after the formal presentations were finished. Following the Annual Meeting, all voting Owners were sent an email with candidate statements and specific directions to cast their votes online. Voting closed on July 30 and results will be shared with our Ownership, very soon.
Board Treasurer Bill Petty shared a summary of the co-op's finances and expenses in 2017; and then Greg Berlowitz provided some insight into our budget planning and how Chicago Market will follow a tried & true strategy for co-operative funding by launching an Owner Loan Campaign as soon as we have a final negotiated deal for our store building. Greg was able to address several questions from Owners at the meeting about the assumptions we've used to project funding from this and other sources.
Grant wrapped up the meeting with a look forward at the Board's most pressing priorities now: in addition to moving forward with Site and Funding as we'd already discussed, we'll be focusing on evaluating and hiring an experienced General Manager for the store; moving the Board from a "working" to a more "governance" structure as the GM and other actual paid staff begin to come aboard; and continuing to focus on Owner growth as a critical priority. In fact, as Greg covered in the store funding discussion, co-op consultants and those experienced in lending to co-ops have indicated that we'll need at least 1,500 Owners to have the best chance of our Owner Loan Campaign reaching its financial target.
We welcome feedback from Owners who attended the meeting; as well as those who could not attend but reviewed the information we sent via email afterward. Please email us if you have questions about content, ideas to share about moving forward, or even thoughts about the timing, location and format of this year's Annual Meeting.
Finally, huge thanks to volunteers Annette Mambuca, Hillary Stifler, Maria Rasche, Malcolm Haar, Dana Kurka, Sofia Jouravel, Andy Ryle, Dana McKinney and Cathi Schwalbe for their help at the event, as well as to Business Owner #711 Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Bread & Wine for providing refreshments for the meeting.
P.S. We asked Owners to take part in a "Canned Tuna Drive" for our friends at Lakeview Pantry and were delighted with the response. Thanks to all who contributed!