As Greensboro becomes more aware of the emerging Renaissance Community Co-op (RCC), a few misconceptions have emerged that I would like to address.
One of these is about the nature of our Co-op ownership and its business structure. Co-ops have been around a long time and are increasing in popularity.
The RCC is a for-profit business organized to benefit its owners, many of whom are based in the Phillips Avenue neighborhood where the co-op will be located. It is a democratically run, transparent organization with owners who make a one-time payment of $100 to have a stake in the business. Each individual may purchase only one $100 ownership share. The RCC is created by and for the neighborhood to rid the area of a food desert. Other Greensboro residents have become owners too, because we all believe that ready access to healthy, reliable food is necessary for everyone in our county. None of us wants to see Guilford County bearing the stigma of having the most food insecurity in the entire United States, which is now the case (pdf).
There are no other levels of ownership in the RCC. Individuals and groups can make donations, grants, loans or owner-loans that facilitate the RCC’s start-up. However, these sources of funding do not result in any additional equity in the co-op. No person can have more than $100 equity in the RCC. The distribution of any surplus revenues at the end of the fiscal year are voted on by owners.
The amount of funding the RCC has brought together is significant. Funding any start-up requires a mix of equity and loans. To date, the RCC has raised gifts, grants, and loans totaling over $1.4 million through hard grassroots work and the help of hired technical experts, including the Fund for Democratic Communities, Uplift Solutions, our development partner Self-Help Venture Fund, and others. None of these or other entities have ownership in the RCC.
The RCC is currently seeking funding from Guilford County as it did successfully from the City of Greensboro. We have been encouraged to apply for funding through the County’s Economic Development Agency grant program, which grants funds to non-profits that in turn work with businesses to encourage job creation in the County. It’s part of the formula for how our community advances and creates good jobs. If we are successful in our grant application, County funding would flow to the RCC through our partner, Self-Help, the non-profit developer of The Shops at Renaissance Plaza. The RCC will create 32 good jobs, and it will help transform a neighborhood.
John Jones, Chair
Renaissance Community Co-op