USDA announced on October 3, 2011 that Golden Valley Electric Association (GVEA) in Fairbanks, AK will be awarded a $300,000 grant through the Rural Economic Development Grant Program (REDG). This grant will be combined with $60,000 in matching funds from GVEA to create a low interest revolving loan fund available to promote economic development in Fairbanks. The $60,000 will come from unclaimed Capital Credits and will not affect members’ rates. REDG is a program available only to rural electric cooperatives.
Fairbanks Community Cooperative Market (Co-op Market) has been selected as the first recipient of a loan from this new fund. This loan will provide an important part of the financing needed to make a cooperatively owned grocery store in downtown Fairbanks a reality. In addition to this loan, Co-op Market has raised over $300,000 from its membership in Member Loans as well as $150,000 from the equity contribution made by members when they join.
Co-op Market will be the first cooperatively owned grocery store in Alaska. It will serve Fairbanks as well as residents from the communities on the interior Alaska road system who regularly shop in Fairbanks. Although owned cooperatively by member-owners the store and all services provided by Co-op Market are open to everyone. Membership is encouraged but is not a requirement to shop or receive services.
When it opens, Co-op Market will be a retail store committed to offering the widest possible selection of local and Alaska grown produce, dairy, meats, and Alaskan seafood. There will be typical grocery departments including dairy, frozen foods, dry grocery, fresh produce, bulk foods, meat, seafood, and health and beauty products. The store will be fully stocked with organic and natural grocery items. Whenever possible the store will feature locally made and Alaskan grown products.
Robert Leach, Co-op market Board Chairman, said “I would like to express our appreciation to GVEA for selecting Co-op Market as the first recipient of a loan from this fund. Receiving this loan is an important step in our goal of getting a cooperatively owned grocery store opened in Fairbanks. Creation of this fund is a real credit to GVEA, it creates an important asset for the Fairbanks that will stay in community to be used over and over in the future.”
“This is a great opportunity for GVEA to help promote the cooperative form of business and economic development in our community,” said Board Chairman Bill Nordmark. “The Co-op Market will provide the downtown community with a much needed locally-owned and operated cooperative market.”