SUNDRE - An effort to launch a local cooperative that aims to raise funds for reinvestment into the community is underway.
Mike Beukeboom, the interim chair of the fledgling organization, said an annual general meeting to hold elections and choose directors would go ahead once the group has been incorporated.
Paperwork has been submitted to Service Alberta, the ministry responsible for registries and land titles, and was still as of last week being processed, said Beukeboom, who is hopeful to receive official status in the coming weeks.
“We’re calling ourselves the Sundre Investment Group Cooperative,” he said.
“It’s kind of an interesting concept.”
The objective is to create an opportunity for local money to be invested into the business community in a variety of endeavours. Those could include buying a plaza or storefront to help a new business get started, or perhaps assist an existing enterprise to expand, he said.
“We’re looking at anything that comes across the table to get the ball rolling.”
Another potential project the group was interested in supporting is the municipality’s push for broadband, for which council just last week conditionally set aside $1 million in the hopes of incentivizing a public-private partnership.
“It’s a conversation to be had, and Sundre needs it,” he said about fibre optic broadband infrastructure that would provide not only residents but also the business community with access to high speed internet.
“For our purposes, this is a project that makes sense for the community and business community.”
Each share issued for a given project would be registered with the Alberta Securities Commission, he said.
“This is all the real deal. It’s not just a bunch of boys sitting around throwing money about.”
Cooperatives are not unheard of in the community, he said, pointing to 50 years ago when some community and business leaders helped bring natural gas to town.
“Most people out west understand the concept of a co-op.”
While a number of people have expressed interest in the project, the group remained relatively small, said Beukeboom, adding there are about 30 people on his email list.
Depending on the project, he said there could at times be a significant dollar amount reaching upwards of $1 million sought, with other initiatives seeking smaller investments in the range of $50,000 to provide an existing business an opportunity to expand or new industry that needs a cash injection to get started, he said.
“Members could choose among a variety of projects to invest in pending on their interest.”
The underlying goal, however, would always remain the same: to foster an opportunity for community driven funding to support community driven initiatives. To date, Beukeboom said he has heard plenty of positive input in discussions with business people in town.
“Everyone I’ve spoken to said we should have been doing this for years.”
He estimated that a membership would cost about $250, with the going rate for a minimum share set at $5,000, which would still be low enough to enable friends to pool their resources.
“People can team up to buy shares together.”
Whether trying to raise a substantial sum like $1 million, or a more modest amount such as $50,000, reaching a goal $50 at a time would not be very feasible, he said.
He also hopes the co-op will instill a sense of pride and economic stewardship for the local business community during a time dominated by online behemoths.
“In today’s Amazon world, loyalty has been lost,” he said, adding once strong shop local sentiments have deteriorated in the reality of being able to buy just about anything online.
But having people invest their own money in Sundre projects could encourage a sense of stewardship and loyalty that has kind of gone by the wayside, he said.
Once incorporated as a cooperative, the group plans to organize an official launch to introduce itself to the community, he said.