Food co-op plan started

Local producers would take part in grocery store

The Columbus Food Co-op plans to open a full-service grocery store next year that will offer locally grown products to the public.

Plans for the grocery store were announced Wednesday during the Columbus Area Food Summit by Mike Johnston, food co-op board president.

The member-owned co-op has been working to increase public access to locally sourced food, Johnston said, noting that it hopes to sell local products from a 100- to 150-mile radius.

Johnston said the food co-op anticipates more than 50 local farmers and producers will provide items such as meat and produce once the store opens.

The business plan calls for creation of more than 30 full- or part-time jobs, as well as spending $500,000 with local farmers during the store’s first year of operation.

Shoppers will know where food on the store’s shelves was grown, with an emphasis on stocking local products, Johnston said.

Every $1,000 spent by co-op shoppers eventually will generate $1,604 in the local economy, the co-op forecasts.

More details on the store may be announced during the co-op’s annual meeting in late April, Johnston said.

The Columbus Food Co-op began discussing the idea of a grocery store in 2010, and spent nearly all of 2015 focused on a former Aldi store for its location at 1750 25th St.

Startup costs for the project were projected at $1.8 million, but the co-op was unable to generate enough funding commitments before a third lease extension at that location fell through.

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Matt Kent is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at 812-379-5712 or mkent@therepublic.com