This rendering for the Blue Hill Cooperative’s proposed new store on South Street features a café to the left and retail shop to the right with a parking lot in front of the store. The proposed parking area will be much larger and safer than the existing lot on Green’s Hill. IMAGE COURTESY OF BROOKSVILLE ARCHITECT BRUCE STAHNKE

Blue Hill Co-op looking to raise $1M for new store



BLUE HILL — The Blue Hill Co-op is enlisting the power of the people to try to raise $1 million by Sept. 30 for construction of its proposed new store on South Street.

The fundraising effort is the first made under Maine’s crowdfunding law, known as Fund-ME, according to state Securities Administrator Judith Shaw.

The co-op, which operates a natural food market and café now located on Ellsworth Road, is offering co-op owners who are Maine residents the chance to invest through “preferred shares.”

Preferred shares are a type of investment that pays out yearly dividends based on the length of investment. At the end of the investment period, the investor can request to receive his or her original investment back or can choose to continue earning dividends.

“The co-op has structured the preferred shares to pay higher annual returns than you would see from a typical CD at a bank,” says Tom Reeve, relocation manager for the co-op. “We see our investment opportunity as a way for the community to support the growth of a longstanding local business while earning a return on their investment.”

The new co-op storefront, located across from The Bay School in Blue Hill, will triple the size of the existing store.

All the money raised from the investment campaign will be used to partially fund the construction project, which is slated to begin in spring 2017.

“It’s great to see the Blue Hill Co-op thriving and moving forward with their efforts to grow the co-op community here,” says Wynston Estis, the co-op’s interim general manager.

Fund-ME allows Maine businesses to raise up to $1 million, and generally permits individuals to invest up to $5,000 in a business during a 12-month period.

“Blue Hill Co-op is just the type of small business seeking to grow that Fund-ME is intended to assist,” Administrator Shaw stated in a press release. “Fund-ME provides Maine’s small businesses a new tool to raise capital, and uses the basic concept of social funding to allow everyday investors to participate directly in the development of a Maine business.”

Crowdfunding legislation also has been enacted at the federal level. The JOBS Act was signed into law in April of 2012. It authorized the Securities and Exchange Commission to write federal rules for crowdfunding. Those rules were recently finalized, but Maine and other states moved forward in the interim.

Blue Hill Co-op owners who are residents of Maine who are interested in purchasing preferred shares can find more information on the co-op’s website, bluehill.coop, at the co-op or by contacting Reeve at

[email protected]

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