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6 posts categorized "Co-op news"

October 06, 2015

Rochester co-op manager moves up to CEO job

People’s Food Co-op has named the Rochester store manager Lizzy Haywood to serve as the organization's CEO and general manager.

Haywood, who has led the Rochester store since it opened in 2013, took over the role on Sept. 28. She is now based in La Crosse, Wis. at the People's Food Co-op headquarters and original store. 

115840_7644_339_lizzy_haywood"The Rochester store manager position has been posted and we are accepting applications," said People's Marketing Director Ann Mull on Tuesday.

Haywood had been serving as interim CEO and general manager since Aug.19, when the previous CEO Michelle Schry resigned to take another job. Prior to coming to Rochester, she was the general manager at the Bluff County Co-op in Winona.

The People's Food Co-op in La Crosse merged with Rochester's Good Food Store in 2011. The organization then moved the cooperative into downtown Rochester.  The almost 27,000 square-foot People's Food Co-op opened on the main level of Rochester's Metropolitan Market Place complex at 519 First Ave. SW in 2013. 

The La Crosse organization is one of the 25 largest food cooperatives in the U.S. It has more than 8,000 member families in Rochester and La Crosse and annual revenues of $25 million.

February 19, 2015

Forager Brewing Co. on tap for Kutzky neighborhood

Here's some from my article today about a proposed brewery/coffee house/wood fired pizza shop and local market.


A new project promises to bring a small batch brewery, wood fired pizzas, a coffee shop and more to Rochester's Kutzky neighborhood by this summer.

Foragersketch1The plan is to transform 5,000-square-feet of the former Good Food Store building at 1005 Sixth Street NW into The Kutzky Market. Spearheaded by majority owner Annie Henderson, the concept is to bring together a coffee shop, brewery/restaurant, a leasable commercial kitchen, and a local retail market.

"With everything going on with DMC (Destination Medical Center initiative) and the hype around downtown, we decided to look in the core neighborhoods," said Henderson. "We wanted it to be something community based and neighborhood based, but still walkable from a lot of people's houses."

The building has been empty since the Good Food Store closed in 2013 and merged with the People's Food Cooperative in downtown Rochester.

Kutzky Market has a lot of permits and construction yet to get through before it becomes a reality. She estimates it should be ready to open sometime this summer. Some interior demolition has already started and the hope is for construction to start in earnest in March.

The main piece of this new project is Forager Brewing Co. as well as its daytime counterpart, Kutzky Coffee. Head brewer and part owner Austin Jevne will run Forager, where he will produce small batches of beer using local ingredients. The name of the brewer comes from the fact that many of the ingredients that Jevne uses are foraged from the southeastern Minnesota countryside.

Jevne the brewer and Henderson the visionary were connected by the owners of the Thirsty Belgium bar, where Jevne worked.

"It's kind of a perfect match," she said. "Austin already had that name (Forager) in mind. We thought it was a really cool name and now it's become a big part of our identity.

The conversation started about mid-January and now about month later, Kutzky Market is moving ahead.

Forager will also be a full restaurant with a focus on local, seasonal ingredients. A large wood-fired oven will be used for many of Chef Jordan Bell's dishes, including pizzas. Bell comes to Forager from the popular Nosh Bar & Restaurant in Lake City.

Another owner, Rochester architect Adam Ferrari describes Forager as "the Farmer's Market approach to beer making and pizza."

During the day, the restaurant space will serve as the Kutzky Coffee shop.

Henderson's vision also includes The Kitchen, a commercial kitchen available for lease.

"Say you want to make things to sell at the Farmer's Market. You could lease the Kitchen for that and you could also sell your things in our retail market," she said.

The Kutzky Market will focus on locally created goods, including foods created by Chef Bell.

And then there's the artistic piece. Henderson is very active with various downtown Rochester groups, including the C4 art salon, so she intends to have periodic artists-in-residence as well as three walls for the display of local art.

Forager will also feature a piece of Rochester history. The group purchased the bar from Pappageorge Taverna at the recent auction of the furnishing, art and equipment from Michaels restaurant.

"This is a marriage of all of these different fun, entrepreneurial uses under one roof," said Ferrari of the whole project.

April 08, 2013

Deal to buy ex-People's Energy Co-op building in works

People's Energy Cooperative moved out of Rochester and into a newly built complex outside of Oronoco last spring.

PeoplesSince then, its 42-year-old headquarters at 3935 U.S. 14 E. has stood empty.

Now a deal is in the works s a local buyer is stepping up to make an offer on the former People's complex. It includes a 13,000-square-foot office building and a 40,500-square-foot warehouse/shop building.

Hamilton Real Estate had listed the property at $2.8 million. I believe the offer in the works is for $2.4 million.

Look for all of the details on this to come out in the PB.

October 23, 2012

S.E. Minn.'s corn harvest comes in early, piled high

Forecasts about how good the corn harvest would be in parts of southeastern Minnesota have turned out to be wrong.

It is a lot better than anyone dared to predict.

In contrast to the rest of the drought-blasted Midwest, the area's rain-favored fields are bursting with a cornucopia of corn.

10232012cornharvest"I believe this is one of the largest harvests ever, if not the largest, for this area," said Tim Clemens, Greenway Cooperative's general manager. Greenway runs grain elevators  in Byron, Kasson, Dodge Center and West Concord. That puts Greenway's elevators right in the middle of the local corn boom.

With about 95 percent of this year's unusually early harvest completed, farmers are bringing in an average of 170 bushels per acre, with prices running more than $7 a bushel.

Ryan Buck, vice president of the Minnesota Corn Growers Association, farms more than 1,000 acres on a family farm in Goodhue County. He said he has already wrapped up the corn harvest, about three weeks earlier than last year. Last year's crop was "very good," but this year's harvest far exceeds it.

"Much of southeastern Minnesota is kind of a Garden of Eden," Buck said. "The quality of the corn this year is the best I've ever seen."

Clemens said all of Greenway's 5 million bushels of storage, plus more stored in related facilities, is full of grain. That's despite recently adding 1.1 million more bushels in storage.

Greenway has about a quarter million bushels on the ground outside storage bins, he said. Storing outside costs farmers and the cooperative money by lowering the value of the corn. That's not a big deal when corn is selling for $3 a bushel, but it's significant at this season's high prices.

He said the corn harvest is running 10 percent to 15 percent better than even the most optimistic forecasts. That's following a bumper crop of soybeans, which filled more grain bins than expected.

Another twist to this historic harvest is that it is happening so early. Harvests often extend into late November, but this harvest is expected to be mostly done by the end of this month.

"Everyone was kind of caught with their pants down with this harvest," Clemens said. "It is exploding. It is coming in faster than ever before."

While local grain elevators are bursting at the seams, this is an oasis amid a desert of drought-stunted fields across the Midwest. The drought is driving up prices, and grain rationing is being discussed by U.S. agriculture officials. Some livestock and dairy producers are selling off animals because they can't afford to feed them. Some ethanol plants are halting production.

"It certainly hasn't been all roses for everyone," Buck said. "This was kind of a fluke year. That's kind of the beauty of farming. No two harvests are ever the same."

That means that area farmers are in the unheard-of position of having more grain than usual just as prices are running high. Still, that doesn't add up to winning the lottery, because farmers' costs for seed, fertilizer, fuel and most everything else are also higher this year.

Much of this year's corn probably won't be sold for the sky-high prices. Farmers often contract early in the year to sell their future grain at a certain price. That means that despite the high prices, a lot of the bounty from this area could be sold for $5 to $6 a bushel.

However, there is no question that it is much better to be bringing in a record harvest than scraping together grain from drought-blighted farms, like the majority of U.S. grain farmers are doing.

As the harvest rolls to its end, the push is shifting toward figuring out how to ship all of this high-dollar corn out to buyers.

June 22, 2012

The geometry of collaboration — 'Cubists' bring co-working to Rochester

They may be square, but the Cubists coming to downtown Rochester are on the level.

Think of it as your office away from home with a new angle.

06222012thecube1jkA group of business people are shaping up a new co-working space called The Cube, which describes the blockiness of their small building at 717 South Broadway. That's behind the Rochester Area Family Y parking lot.

Spearheaded by David Hewitt of Mama Meg's Frozen Novelties, the details of this project were hammered out by a collection of 15-20 local entrepreneurs.

So what is co-working?

"Coworking is the social gathering of a group of people, who are still working independently, but who share values, and who are interested in the synergy that can happen from working with talented people in the same space," said Hewitt.
In Rochester's Cube is a 360-square-foot office space where members, who all own and run small creative businesses, can get out of their home offices or coffee shop booths and work next to similarly minded people.

It is designed to encourage collaboration and creativity.

The "Cubists" signed up to work there, at least part-time, are Erik Giberti of AF-Design, freelance designer/marketer Sarah Miller, Nate Nordstrom of BrandHoot, Beth Ebnet of Trio Marketing and Events, Bucky Beeman of Snappy Stop and Hewitt.

The space can accommodate about eight people, along with a conference room seating for five. Very few members will be working there every day, so that allows for a larger pool of members.

It features a business broadband network, wireless printing with scanner, copier, a white-board wall, member-only events, coffee and Mama Meg's ice cream sandwiches.

"This has been a dream of mine for some time. It is really quite exciting," says Giberti, who has trying to bring the idea of co-working to Rochester for three or four years. "The time just wasn't right until now."

For the online application developer who has worked out of his Rochester home for the past years, being part of The Cube means he'll have a place to go on occasion to work and brainstorm with other creative people.

And when Giberti needs focused, "heads-down" work time, he still has his home office.

Why do this instead of just leasing a small office or a cubicle somewhere?

"What is really interesting in the co-working model is the creative and interaction that you have by not having those boundaries," he says.

March 09, 2012

Energy co-op flips switch on new digs

Here's some from my piece on the changes at People's Cooperative:

A local energy provider is ready to flip the switch on a new $9 million facility, along with a new name.

On Friday, People's Cooperative will close its 41-year-old headquarters at 3935 U.S. 14 E. in Rochester.

It will then re-open Monday in the brand-new complex at the edge of Oronoco along U.S. 52. However, the sign out front says People's Energy Cooperative.

"We thought this would be a good time to change our name, so it better reflects what we do," says People's president and CEO, Elaine J. Garry.C0F26C68-3C7C-1F8E-77BB-79FD324E842F

Adding "Energy" to its name is only one part of the rural power cooperative's rebirth.

Walking on new tile through the freshly painted hallways, Garry explained what drove the move and how this new 74,000-square-foot facility will better serve the cooperative's 15,000 members.

"It is state-of-the-art and equipped with up-to-date technology," she said. "It offers us a lot of possibilities."

The new location offers People's financial opportunities with 10 acres of commercially zoned land and a 26 acre-industrial park called Oronoco Crossings. People's is also marketing its complex on U.S. 14 East for sale.

Tim Clawson, who manages economic development for the cooperative, says there has been interest in both areas, particularly from possible convenience stores or gas stations on U.S. 52.

"We're really pleased with the reaction," he says. "There is no convenience store on the right (west) side of the highway from St. Paul all the way to Rochester's 41st Street."