Fairbanks Community Cooperative Market has grand opening
USDA R-D Alaska State Director Jim Nordlund traveled to Fairbanks in May to join community volunteers and founders in the grand opening of the new Fairbanks Community Cooperative Market, the state's first member-owned community grocery store.
The Market was partially funded by the USDA-RD’s Rural Economic Development Loans and Grants (REDLG) program. The REDLG program provides funding to rural projects through local utility organizations. Under the REDLG program, USDA-RD provides zero interest loans or grants to local utilities which they, in turn, pass through as loans to local businesses (ultimate recipients) for projects that will create and retain employment. The ultimate recipients repay the lending utility directly.
Making this project possible was the Golden Valley Electric Company (GVEA), a reliable USDA-RD borrower since 1949. GVEA is the grantee was who was awarded a $300,000 REDLG to fund a revolving loan and which injected another $60,000 to the Fairbanks Community Cooperative Market the first recipient of the $360,000 loan from this funding.
The market will provide new opportunities for farmers and ranchers to promote their locally and regionally produced food and expand access to affordable fresh and local food; and its educational efforts should cultivate healthy eating habits and educated, empowered consumers.
“Our collaborative success today couldn’t be complete without the strength and determination of the staff and volunteers at the Fairbanks Community Cooperative Market, Alaska’s first food cooperative, and we want to make sure they receive credit for their teamwork in this effort,” said Mary Christensen, General Manager if the Co-op Market Grocery & Deli.
The goal of the new marketplace is to emphasize Alaska-grown and made foods as much as possible, but will supplement them with stock from the Lower 48 to function as a full-service grocery. The store has already provided more than 20 new local jobs for residents
With more than 1,500 followers on Facebook and spotlights from local media, residents have already been sold on the new Co-op located where you can find freshly prepared soups, sandwiches and salads; Lulu's Bread and Bagels; Hot Licks Homemade Ice Cream; local meats and Alaskan seafood; local produce and much more.
“We can’t stress how important it is that Alaska builds its agriculture and food security programs and it’s the successful partnership between USDA-RD and local business that will go a long way to encourage this industry and bolster community and economic growth, and provide new jobs in the Fairbanks area,” said Nordlund. We hope that other electric and telecommunications companies in Alaska will be inspired to follow suit and work with Rural Development to establish similar success stories in their own communities.