The Coota District Co-Op are continuing to surge towards the $750,000 of start-up capital required to prepare to open the store. On Tuesday, the Coota District Co-Op received two pledges of $150,000 from two individual out-of-town investors.

The two $150,000 investments equal $300,000 and puts the total start-up capital raised for the Coota District Co-Op much closer to the $750,000 the committee wants to trigger the next phase.

Members of the Co-Op can only own a maximum of 20 per cent of the shares of the business, meaning the Co-Op can only accept $140,000 in total now, with the additional money to be contributed when the Co-Op meets their $750,000 goal.

The two investors are from the Illawarra and have chosen to remain unnamed. Other investors may wish to know who the new investors are and will have to take that up with the committee.

The Coota Co-Op is currently boasting almost 700 members and they have made significant progress towards their goals in 2022.

The two pledged investments of $150,000 were made in honour of late Cootamundra local Bob Guy.

“For those who may not be familiar with him, Bob was an amazing teacher, psychologist and musician who was well loved and respected in town. He was a huge advocate for the community and was always involved,”

The Coota District Co-Op Facebook statement read.

“If anyone is able to make a difference in their community years after they’ve passed, it would surely be Bob. He is truly missed by all who knew him, and we like to think that he’s looking on and happy to see the effects he’s still having by those who knew and loved him.

“We want to thank the private investors who have pledged such a substantial amount of money to help push us closer to our goal of $750,000 and see the vision of opening the store realised. These investors are from out of town and chose to invest in his honour because of how much they know that Bob loved the Cootamundra community.”

Leigh Bowden, Chair of the Coota Co-Op told the Times that the two pledged investments would help their cause immensely.

“We’re very excited. We still require about $75,000 more to get it up to our goal of $750,000,” Bowden said.

“Of course, we would love more than that because the more investment we have, the more stock we can have, the more staff we can employ, the better the business will be and the bigger the business will be.

“The investors have pledged the remaining balance of their investments to be donated once we reach our start- up capital goal.”

With the Co-Op charging towards their start-up capital figure, they have already begun to put plans in place to speed up their timeline. “We’re nearing the start-up capital, have a building in mind and we will start advertising for a manager.

The Business Council of Cooperatives and Mutuals are going to help us with that process.

“We’re not just looking for a manager with retail experience but a manager who understands the nature of cooperatives. This is a community owned business. We certainly want to make profits, but it all goes back into the business.”

The Co-Op has a members meeting coming up on Monday, 30 May, to provide a clear update to forge ahead and to receive feedback.

Bowden hopes that the recent investments will spur others on to make investments and become members and will put an end to the “I’ll wait and see approach.”

“Sue [Guy – Bob’s widow] is thrilled that these investments have been made in Bob’s honour.

He died just after his 70th birthday and was a wonderful musician with wonderful community spirit,”

Bowden continued. Since Target closed their store in Cootamundra last March, many local businesses have begun stocking similar items carried by Target to meet the needs of the community, but Bowden says there is still a gap in the market.

“There is still a need for a store selling affordable children’s wear, underwear, nightwear and shoes. We are still not able to buy all our requirements in town,” she said. “For those of us who don’t travel out of town (for the reasons of time, cost, health or disinclination) or are unable to shop on-line, there is stil a need for these basic items.”

There has been a number of changes on the Coota District Co-Op’s board in recent months too.

“Over the past three months, there have been some board changes. Gwen Norman, our inaugural treasurer has resigned.

Gwen’s other commitments mean that she is unable to continue to give the time necessary to look after the Co-op’s finances,” Bowden continued.

“We are incredibly grateful for the contribution Gwen has made, her hard work, her generosity and her commitment to the community. She has left the financial systems in excellent order.

“Bruce Haines has volunteered to be The Coota District Co-op’s new treasurer.

Bruce completed a Master in Business Administration Degree at Macquarie Graduate School of Management before being posted as Director of Business Improvement and briefly served as the Navy’ Chief Financial Officer.

“Robert Patterson, Chair of the Finance, Audit and Risk Committee, and our non-Co-op member Board Member has also resigned.

We are very grateful to Robert for his commitment over the past nine months and his sage advice.” The Coota District Co-Op has seven board members, two of which can be non-Co-Op members.

The Co-Op board has planned more promotional activities and information sessions in coming months for existing and potential members.

The Co-op Office at 184 Parker Street reopened on 17 January after the Christmas break, and is open to the public for memberships, investments, and general information throughout the week.

Tim Warren