The Blue Hill Co-op reached its first fundraising milestone of $500,000 on Friday, a month ahead of schedule. The co-op intends to build a new store on South Street in Blue Hill across from The Bay School. This rendering shows the entrance and outdoor café for the proposed store. COURTESY OF THE BLUE HILL CO-OP

Blue Hill Co-op clears first fundraising hurdle



BLUE HILL — The Blue Hill Co-op on Friday met its first $500,000 fundraising goal for construction of its new store on South Street.

That target was reached a month ahead of the co-op’s Aug. 16 deadline to sell a minimum of $500,000 in investment shares to Maine resident co-op owners, according to General Manager Kevin Gadsby. As of July 14, the co-op had raised $500,300.

“That was just a huge indication of our co-op community support,” Gadsby said. “We’re just elated to see the support we’re seeing from the Blue Hill Peninsula.”

The co-op plans to move to a brand-new building on South Street across from the Bay School by late 2018 to early 2019.

The store now plans to offer investment offerings in the states from which co-op member-owners have shown the most interest.

“We’ve been in communication with our attorney to be able to make this investment offering available to seasonal and summer people,” Gadsby said.

Gadsby noted that investment offerings for members will continue until its Aug. 16 expiration date.

“We are urging our co-op members to invest what they can,” Gadsby said. “Every bit helps. Shares are $100 each. An investment in the co-op is an investment in our future.”

The range of investment thus far is wide, from $100 up to $50,000 per investor.

A “preferred share” costs $100. Investments earn annual dividends that range from 0 percent to 4.5 percent, depending on the particular type of share the investor chooses.

“We need the participation of all co-op member-owners to make this happen, and especially our year-round residents.”

Additionally, the co-op has received $25,720 in donations, $14,450 of which has come as a tax-deductible donation through a nonprofit fiscal sponsor, Eastern Maine Development Corp.

The co-op is a thriving business.

In 2016, the co-op purchased more than $766,000 worth of goods from Maine producers.

Employing nearly 30 full- and part-time staff, the Blue Hill Co-op is a $3-million for-profit, cooperatively-owned food store that has been running strong for 42 years, said Gadsby.

Membership growth at the co-op is at an all-time high as well, Gadsby said.

“2016 was a record-breaker with 277 new member-owners added,” Gadsby said. “Every month thus far in 2017 has also shown record membership growth, with 163 members added from January 1 to June 27, 2017.”

An expanded, more accessible co-op will have a greater impact on fostering the local economy, the manager said. “We really do believe it’s going to help grow and foster a vibrant local economy.”

For more information, visit www.bluehill.coop or call Gadsby at 374-2154.

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