Monday, September 26, 2016

local investment

Do you know what it takes to raise one million dollars in a non-affluent co-op community? In a community that is right in the middle of a food desert? Lots of phone calls, lots of tabling outside the store, lots of personal conversations with small investors and large investors, lots of wishing, and a whole lot of hope.

There was also a good amount of begging.

In the Spring of 2014 we raised enough money to move forward with the expansion of our beloved store. We raised $1 million! For some it was simple funneling of excess funds. For many, many others it was a matter of tapping into their monthly budget and seeing what they could spare. For the majority of EFC's Member-Owners it was dropping their extra change into a bucket.

These are just some of the reasons why EFC Member-Owners came together to raise a million dollars:
  • they wanted to invest in their local community
  • they liked having access to locally produced, organic foods and they wanted more of it.
  • they wanted more jobs in the community
  • they wanted a coffee shop
  • they wanted a store that could adequately serve the neighborhood
 All good reasons, all reasons that point to concerns for the betterment of our local community.

If you are one of these EFC Owners who invested in your local co-op, please take a moment to scroll through the legal consolidation agreement.

On pages 5 and 6, this is what you will read:

(c) Preferred Stock.
Each share of Class C or Class D stock of the Parties issued and outstanding or otherwise standing on the books of the Parties immediately prior to the Effective Time shall be converted into such number of shares of Class C stock of CAFC having the same total par value, and in such denominations or other designations or series as CAFC deems necessary so as to preserve the year of issue and other terms and conditions of the original issuance, except that:

(i)              each share of Class C and Class D stock of Eastside issued and outstanding or otherwise standing on the books of Eastside immediately prior to the Effective Time shall be provided the same rights to accumulation of undeclared dividends as are provided to the holders of Class C shares of Wedge immediately prior to the Effective Time; and

(ii)           the dividend rate on each share Class C Stock of Eastside issued and outstanding or otherwise standing on the books of Eastside immediately prior to the Effective Time shall be reduced from up to 5% per annum to up to 4% per annum.

C- and D-shares invested in your local co-op and in your local community will automatically be converted into shares for the new consolidated co-op and controlled by a board that consists of only three representatives from Eastside. On top of that, the terms of the initial investment will change (see bold blue text).

Why is this important to me?
I left the EFC board of directors on June 1st, 2016. At the time, the EFC board was told that all shares invested in the co-op would be redeemed and returned to those who wanted their investments returned.

One of the reasons why I left and could no longer support the consolidation was the realization that when given the chance to redeem, I would take back my investment when offered because I did not wish to put my investment money towards a business venture outside of NE Minneapolis.

In the months before we began the capital campaign to raise a million dollars for EFC's expansion, the decision was made to redeem all shares invested prior to the expansion project. This was done to allow the return of funds to those who longer wanted to invest. EFC settled its financial affairs before taking on another project. The conversion of all shares into the consolidation co-op breaks with past practices.

And we should all be asking why. Everyone regardless of whether they are advocates of the consolidation or opposed should be asking questions of why the EFC board has decided to divert away from best cooperative practices.

We should be asking why because we own this cooperative business. We supported this cooperative business. We invested in this cooperative business.

Keeping the money in the local economy is a cooperative value.

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