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Food Co-op closes deals on loan, building contractor

The Friendly City Food Co-op announced today both the closing of a new $50,000 loan from the Staunton Creative Community Fund and the selection of its building contractor, Harman Construction Co.

“We couldn’t be more excited,” said Ben Sandel, president of the Friendly City Food Cooperative. “Launching the Friendly City Food Co-op has truly been a community-based effort, with our members, lenders, and volunteers all playing a vital role in the process.”

The Food Co-op’s latest loan proceeds come from the Staunton Creative Community Fund, a nonprofit community development lender that finances sustainable startups and business ventures generating positive community impact.

“The Friendly City Food Co-op epitomizes the type of projects we seek to support, generating downtown revitalization, forging community-based partnerships, and building infrastructure that supports local farmers and healthy eating choices. We are so proud to be helping the co-op reach its fundraising goals,” said Meghan Williamson, executive director of the Staunton Creative Community Fund.

The new loan was made possible through the creativity and flexibility of both the Friendly City Food Co-op and the Staunton Creative Community Fund. Lacking available collateral for a traditional business loan, 10 Food Co-op members stepped up to guarantee portions of the loan. Recognizing the local economic impact that will be generated by the Food Co-op, the Staunton Creative Community Fund was able to offer a below-average interest rate on the loan.

“Our focus is on building the local economy and helping farmers, entrepreneurs, and consumers keep their dollars local. That means building new systems that emphasize flexibility, as well as finding win-win solutions that reward investors, borrowers, and community members,” said Williamson. “We recognize that economic returns are more than just dollars, they are also jobs, vibrant communities, healthy eating choices, and sustainable development practices.”

The latest loan announcement arrives on the heels of the Friendly City Food Co-op’s summer member loan campaign, which raised more than $675,000 to support the renovation of the Co-op’s new store front and other startup costs.

“We are very fortunate to be operating in a community that understands the value of local investing and which creates its own development solutions,” said Sam Nickels, chair of the Member Loan Campaign. “We’re excited today, with the announcement of our new lender and building contractor, to begin the work of renovations, building construction, and the spring 2011 launch of the Friendly City Food Co-op store.”

Edited by Chris Graham. Chris can be reached at