At Monday night’s members’ meeting in the auditorium at the Cootamundra Ex-Services Club attended by 140, including 19 on Zoom, the conclusion was made that the Co-Op will go ahead after 12 strong months of campaigning.

As of Monday night, the Coota District Co-Op had 755 members, with an investment capital of $766,920, above the required start-up capital amount of $750,000.

The Coota District Co-Op reached their required start-up capital two weeks ago.

Todd Basham, Coota District Co-Op board member, announced the exciting news of the confirmed store location, which will operate from the old Cootamundra Herald building at 245 B Parker Street.

Leigh Bowden, Chair of the Coota District Co-Op was ecstatic with the outcome from Monday night’s meeting. “We’ve had a great influx of members and investment in the last two weeks before the meeting, so we changed it to that the members gave the authority to the board to carry on with these decisions,”

The members at the meeting gave us an indication of the way that they wanted to go.

“The first topic was that members support the board Todd Basham speaks before the crowd. going forward in the set-up of the Coota District Co-Op.

“The second topic was that the members support the board in entering into a lease arrangement for a store location for the business.

“The third topic raised was that members support the board to think of expressions of interest for the staff position of store manager.

“The members gave their support and endorsement of the board going forward in regard to those three topics.”

The Coota District Co-Op Business Plan requires a store manager who has the usual skills, but one who also has a knowledge and understanding of the principles of Co-Op’s, which they must be guided by.

The responsibilities required of the operations manager will include, budget and financial performance management, recruitment and performance management of the retail team, compliance across the Co-Op, member engagement, retention planning and implementation, as well as a host of other tasks.

“This paid role might be part-time until there are resources for a full-time role. Initial modelling is based on all operational staff being paid, with volunteers sitting on the board and its relevant sub committees,” Bowden said.

“The Business council of Co-operatives and Mutuals have indicated that they will help us with the recruitment of a manager.”

The Coota District Co-Op have two options regarding the location of their store location. “We’re in negotiations with the Cootamundra Progress Unit Trust to buy the building and we’d lease it from them or leasing the building directly from the building owner. Either way, the agents know that we are definitely interested, and the owner is keen for the Co-Op to happen.”

The Co-Op will host another director’s board meeting on Monday June 6, and will develop a plan of what is required going forward.

“We’ve been given the go ahead by the members, so we have to get a plan in place. We’re going to have to start thinking about ordering stock, considering the delays to the supply chain. All these things have to be considered at the next board meeting,” Bowden continued.

The Co-Op are hoping to have the store up and running by Christmas time this year.

“The average time to form a Co-Op is two years. Our first meeting was in May last year, and that’s when we could start accepting investments and memberships and we’ve done it within a year.”

Coota should be proud of what they have achieved.

When a major chain turned its back on the community, the community used people power to deliver the outcome it so very much needed.

The process which has occurred over the last 13 months highlights what a small, tight-knit bush community can do.

It’s vindication that Coota matters, the thoughts of the community matter and that the community can back that sentiment up by delivering the store that they lost back to the people.

With a housing shortage currently dominating headlines and multinationals leaving small towns, whether it be banks or clothing stores, independence, enthusiasm and self determination must come to the fore.

Feel proud Coota.

It’s still a long road ahead, but your hard working committee has done a great job and the shareholders supporting the committee will give them the impetus to get the job done.

Tim Warren