We have big news. Chicago Market's Board has voted to move forward with building our amazing grocery store together at the former CTA 'L' station! We're pleased to have come to a new agreement with the CTA designed to make our project stronger. Our next step is to finalize things in a new lease.
We've removed all the hurdles but one - Chicago Market can exist at our current site IF we all pull together and raise the needed funds.
What were those other hurdles and how did we overcome them? It's important to know the progress and due diligence we've stepped through together this year, so here's what we've accomplished that makes our site possible.
Operational feasibility - Our Firebrand assessment proves this, with a store design that provides customer and product flow solutions; a plan for our leadership in local foods; and a path to food accessibility.
Lease - The CTA is excited to keep us and though it took time, our negotiations with them went well and we have a great new lease arrangement. This work included pre-approval from the State Historic Preservation Office and the City Landmarks commission, both of whom are excited and supportive of our store design.
Financial feasibility - Our Firebrand assessment gives us a 10 year business projection that shows us profitable and strong.
General manager - The strength of our general manager is critical and we're in negotiations with someone who has all the skills needed to guide us to a successful open store.
TIF funding - This grant is a big part of our funding package and we have the application nearly ready and the city is supportive of our request.
Bank loan - we have strong interest and support from lenders.
Now back to that one remaining hurdle - Funding. Our funding plan calls for TIF funding and a bank loan, but those are just two of the three major components. Co-ops are powerful precisely because they are supported by their Owners and members of the community, and we need to raise funds through loans, donations and increased equity - more Owners.
It's a big challenge, but we know something as valuable as our connected, local food community is worth investing in.
And the clock is ticking. Our timeline to raise funds is short. The TIF process takes 12-13 months and our Owner funding needs to be complete by then too. It's that simple. Together we have about 13 months to:
- raise $1.4M (through loans and donations)
welcome 1620 new Owners
- Assabet Co-op Market (MA) recently raised $1.5M in owner loans in just 4+ months (during COVID and they lost their site during that time).
Oshkosh Food Coop (WI) recently raised $1.6M in owner loans and donations (completing their campaign as COVID began)
- You can DONATE now. Any amount says "I want this!"
- You can JOIN now if you're not already an Owner - help us get to 3500!
- Recruit your friends. Send them to one of our Ownership Info Sessions.
- You can PLEDGE to loan or donate now. We'll connect with you about your loan soon.
You can Level Up your Ownership now. Increase your support and be recognized in the store.
Curious about next steps?
- 1. Submit TIF application. Happening soon.
- 2. Hire GM. We'll do this as soon as negotiations complete.
- 3. Raise the remaining funds. We've raised ~$600,000 in Owner loans and have 1880+ in Owner Equity, but we need the additional $1.4M and our Owner total needs to hit 3500. Campaigns are underway.
- 4. Ensure Owner funds are complete by the time the TIF and bank loans close, which take about 13 months.
- 5. Using Owner funds, TIF funds and bank loan, we'll pay for architects, store designers, permits, build-out, store equipment, our first groceries and wages for all our opening staff.
- 6. Open! Sell groceries! Buy groceries! Be the thriving community business we all dream of!
- Join our Ask Us Anything online sessions - Jan 16 or Jan 21 - where Board members can field your questions.