The idea for New Leaf Market Cooperative arose in 2008 from a group of people who were interested creating new local food enterprises that would accomplish several goals at the same time:
1) Improve people’s health by better access to healthy food
2) Expand the market for the products of local growers and food producers by more direct connections to local customers
3) Expand the local economy by encouraging new local food enterprises and by creating good jobs
4) Enhance the economic and cultural vitality of the greater Green Bay community
5) Educate people about the relationships between good food and good health
6) Sustain the health of the environment and natural resources.
Calling their model the Downtown Food Project, they envisioned four parts to it: a grocery cooperative, a commercial kitchen to be shared by the grocery and food micro-enterprises, a wholesale brokerage for local growers and producers, and an educational facility for classes on nutrition, cooking, gardening, etc. They conceived of the Downtown Food Project as organized into two organizations—a cooperative grocery store that would feature a shared kitchen and local food and provide an educational service to consumer and an umbrella non-profit organization that would generate funding for services to underserved communities and continuing education and would foster new project development. They sought and received a grant to conduct a feasibility study of the Downtown Food Project. The feasibility study analyzed the market for the Downtown Food Project and the interest of local consumers. The market analysis, conducted by an outside expert, was positive. The local interest was studied using a questionnaire, with over 1000 respondents, and a visioning session. Both showed enthusiastic community support for the Downtown Food Project. So, in December of 2009, they decided to go ahead and constituted a Steering Committee, bringing on board other people who shared their goals.
From the first phase of visioning and feasibility and interest studies, New Leaf Market Cooperative officially started its planning and organizing phase in Oct. of 2010 with a press conference announcing the member-ownership drive. That same winter we developed Green Bay's first ever New Leaf Winter Farmers Market to demonstrate the potential of New Leaf Market to promote local farmers and food entrepreneurs and to circulate food dollars locally. In April of 2012, New Leaf Market Cooperative contracted with CDS Consulting and the National Cooperative Grocers Association to move us from planning and organizing to implementation.
We now have the systems in place to secure a site and begin the public phase of our capital campaign. New Leaf Market has two professional market analyses of various downtown locations, a business plan with pro forms financials, a member loan investment prospectus, legal representation, website and social media presence on Facebook and Twitter, bank accounts and accounting system, and member-owner database.
Membership and Marketing Campaign: We are now in the process of expanding the member-ownership of New Leaf Market Cooperative. When we reached 300 members, we held an election for the Board of Directors and voted on the by-laws in June of 2011. We need about 1500 members by the time the store opens and as of April 2013, we have 662 member-owners.
Site Selection: The site selection team has developed site selection criteria in line with the market analyses. They have examined many potential downtown sites and ranked them. They are vetting the top three sites.
Capital Campaign: The future depends upon our ability to raise sufficient capital. When you invest in New Leaf Market by purchasing a membership share, you are contributing to the success of the capital campaign.