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Fledgling East Aurora co-op gets seed money

East Aurora's new cooperative food market, expected to open in 2012, has been awarded $10,000 to help educate its officers in the business.

The group has already started selling artisanal bread from Elm Street Bakery's wood-fired oven at the co-op's 618 Main St. office, along with eggs and other local goods.

Here's the co-op's email:

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East Aurora Cooperative Market, Inc. receives $10,000 grant: Food Coop Initiative awarded grant for education

East Aurora, NY –The East Aurora Cooperative Market, Inc., was selected to receive a $10,000 Seed Grant from Food Co-op Initiative, a non-profit foundation that provides resources and support for start-ups. 

“Absolutely thrilled,” were the words EA Co-op President Sheila Conboy used to describe her reaction to winning the grant. 

The $10,000 was the highest amount available for applicants.  “We expect to award 14 Seed Grants, between $1,900 and $10,000,” said Stuart Reid, executive director of FCI.  The recipients represent co-ops in 11 states, from New Hampshire to Alaska, who successfully proved that they were able to fully understand cooperative structure, values and principles; articulate a clear vision; and organize a strong, committed team to their endeavor.  Priority was given to co-ops with a high likelihood of feasibility, potential for significant community impact and evidence of strong partnerships and support.

As stipulated in the application, the money will fund education and training for the co-op’s board of directors.  In addition to the monetary award, FCI is also committed to regular follow-up and assistance with the EA Co-op team, through professional consulting services and training.

The grant included a matching criteria as well; therefore, the EA Co-op must match every grant dollar with at least one dollar of funds raised locally.  “Though challenging, I’m sure we can accomplish the match,” Conboy said.  “We’ve got almost two years under our belt, and we see nothing but opportunity ahead.  This grant is too important for us to fail.”

“Food Co-op Initiative is excited to be able to offer these outstanding co-ops a small measure of financial support along with our ongoing commitment to provide them with the resources and tools they need to be successful,” Reid said.

The East Aurora Co-op, slated to open in 2012, will bring a cooperatively owned and managed food market to people who live and work in the Southtowns communities of Western New York.  For more information about the EA Co-op and this event, visit www.eacoop.com.

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