We know that investing in anything is a big decision and that you probably have a lot of questions. We've listed out a few of the most commonly asked questions about the Community Investment Program below. If your question isn't listed, feel free to reach out to one of our CIP Volunteers at [email protected] or 630-446-0010.
Why ask our Community to Invest?
It’s how Co-ops build the capital they need to be successful. Community investment demonstrates the existence of a loyal customer base, which:
- increases our chances for success
- generates funding that is less costly and more flexible than banks can offer
- gives commercial lenders confidence that Prairie Food Co-op is viable and desirable so they can offer PFC additional financing if needed
What’s in it for investors like me?
You have the opportunity to earn a respectable return and gain the satisfaction of knowing your money will:
- be invested locally
- increase the quality of life for our entire community
- support a venture that aligns with your values
- be THE KEY to our store opening its doors!
Our Community Investment Program offers a unique opportunity that is not tied to the volatility of the overall stock market. It very literally moves money from Wall Street to Main Street, where it can make tangible things happen within our community. This is an opportunity to invest in an organization whose values you fully understand and actually have a say in.
Can I help in ways that aren’t financial?
Of course! There are many non-financial ways to participate and get us closer to store open! Starting now, you could...
- Ask 15 friends to join you in ownership = a $3k value
Share your time & expertise = priceless. We are looking for the following skills:
- Marketing / Graphic Design
- Sales / Connectors / Callers
- Financial / Legal Paperwork / Closers
- Master of gratitude and celebrations
- Grant writers
Is PFC Seeking Traditional Bank Financing?
Yes, PFC has a $1.2M traditional bank loan in underwriting from West Suburban Bank in partnership with LEAF.
What about my Ownership Shares?
As a PFC owner, you bought two Ownership Shares for $200 total. These shares are tied to voting rights within our democratic organization, One Owner = One Vote. Ownership shares funded our outreach and start-up efforts but represent a small fraction of the capital needed.
What if the Co-Op doesn’t open? Will I get my money back?
Prairie Food Co-op will hold all funds invested in Shares and Loans in escrow until we have raised a minimum of $2.5 million in Owner contributions. At that time, the board will re-assess feasibility, as we have done at every major step of our development process. If the board determines that the project is no longer feasible and will not proceed, investments will be returned. Once escrow is broken, if the co-op does not open or closes after opening, investments are unlikely to be returned and subject to legal requirements with all contributors.
Charitable donations cannot be returned. Donations made to our fiscal agent on our behalf cannot be returned once made. If the board determines the project is no longer feasible, our fiscal agent will use the donated funds to support the wise use of cooperative approaches through education and development.
What are Preferred Shares?
Preferred Shares are stock that could yield annual dividends. Any Illinois resident can participate and buy up to 10 total PFC shares at $1,000 per share. Outside of donations, Preferred Shares are the most co-op friendly way to invest in PFC and should be considered a long-term investment (15+ years). They can yield annual dividends but like most stock, no promises.
What are Owner Loans?
Only Illinois PFC Owners are eligible to make a loan to Prairie Food Co-op with a legal agreement on interest rates and pay-off schedules. This is a mid-term investment of 15 years for investments ranging from $10,000 - $600,000. Money is eventually paid back and you earn interest on your loan. But like most loans, there are risks.
How do Grants & Donations factor in?
We will work with institutional funders, local foundations, community programs, philanthropists, and individuals like yourself to fund as much of the project as possible. For some folks and all those outside Illinois, a tax-deductible donation with no minimums or maximums is the most win-win way to contribute.
Is there a deadline to raise the funds needed to build our store?
Yes, we need to raise all $4.4M by December 15, 2021, in order to fulfill our lease agreement with the developer of our site. If we do not make that deadline, we will lose the site.
When can I invest in PFC?
The Community Investment Program kicked off January 2021. PFC Owners have contributed $1.1 M towards this $4.4 M project. Coupled with our $1.2M bank loan, we are halfway to our goal. We need to raise the remaining $2.2 M by December 15, 2021 to keep the lease for our site at 109 South Main.
If you already know you would like to contribute, reach out to us at [email protected] and we will put you at the top of our contact list once our legal paperwork is finalized and full program details are approved by our board.
More questions? Please contact us at [email protected].
We are not soliciting Owner capital in any form at this time. Owner loans will be available only to Illinois Owners, Preferred Shares will only be available to Illinois residents, and only pursuant to complete offering documents when and if a capital campaign is approved by the board.