Published June 22, 2016 by Food Co-op Initiative
The crowd gathered at the CCMA conference in early June gave a standing ovation to the Renaissance Community Co-op (RCC) board, staff, and consultants as they accepted the 2016 Startup Award of the Year from Stuart Reid of Food Co-op Initiative. “This startup has captured our food co-op community’s attention and imagination in unique ways over the last few years,” Reid shared. “They have faced hurdles and obstacles, and creatively found ways to educate their community about the need for a locally-owned cooperative grocery store.”
Nearly two decades ago, this Northeast Greensboro, NC community lost the only grocery store serving an area with over 60,000 residents. Considered a low-income food desert, early organizers were working with the city to bring in a new commercial store, but all attempts failed. The community became an organizing powerhouse when the local government considered that former store site for a landfill, rallying to block that movement and helping to change the tone of city politics. Recognizing their strength in community organizing, when one voice said “we should own the store” the idea of a co-op was born.
What followed was a major campaign to educate people abtou co-ops and why they should want to own one. They set high standards for teaching and marketing with their video We Want a Co-op, and brought the character of Northeast Greensboro t the entire co-op community.
With support from the City of Greensboro, Self-Help Ventures Fund, Fund for Democratic Communities,Uplift Solutions, Lakeshore Food Advisors, Cooperative Development Services, Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro, Cone Health Foundation, Shared Capital Cooperative, The Working World, Regenerative Finance, Fund for Democratic Communities, and more, the RCC is on track to open a 10,500 square foot full-service grocery store, on the site of the long-lost store, in late 2016.
The Startup Co-op of the Year award is co-sponsored by CDS Consulting Co-op and Food Co-op Initiative. This award recognizes excellence in leadership, strength of community support, and use of the 4 Cornerstone in 3 Stages development model to successfully open a retail food cooperative.