Lost River Community Cooperative

In September 2005, a large group of residents from the greater Orange County region in Southern Indiana gathered to discuss plans to support the growers of local specialty foods and to enhance their availability within the region. A steering committee began to developthe Lost River Community Cooperative. Since that time, the group has been off and running!

The group consisting of consumers as well as producers adopted a vision and mission statement, drafted a set of bylaws, and collected information to formulate a road map to successfully conduct the development work for a new consumer owned food cooperative. The food co-op store will offer a mix of conventional food items, locally grown produce, meats, and baked goods, natural food selections, bulk foods, hard-to-find items, and health and nutrition products. The goal of the retail store is to have a unique product offering, but be broad enough to be a primary food store.

"Paoli is really at a crossroads at the junction of Hwy. 37, 150, and 56 and the store location capitalizes on that regional aspect,”-board member Jim Wooten

The cooperative incorporated in 2006 with the help of the Indiana cooperative Development Center and CDS. The steering committee utilized the expertise of food co-op advisors to conduct a market analysis and feasibility study and to write a business plan. The steering committee immediately embarked on an intensive membership recruitment drive, member loan campaign, and financing of the cooperative business. The steering committee transitioned to their initial Board of Directors at their first annual meeting in April, 2007. The project has garnered much enthusiasm and support within the committee. The cooperative purchased a building in Paoli for its retail location which as it turns out was originally built as a locally owned grocery store. The co-op membership has been diligently working to renovate and install fixtures for the store.

A general manager was recently hired, and the store is scheduled to open for business as the Lost River Grocery and Deli in the fall of 2007. Lost River plans to employ six when the store opens and twenty people within five years. For more information on the Lost River Community Co-op based in Orange County, visit their website at www.lostrivercoop.com.