A committed ownership is at the core of Seward Co-op’s success. In the past five years our ownership has nearly tripled. This growth is directly linked to our financial achievements, as well as our role as a positive contributor to our community and the environment. As we prepare for the upcoming expansions, owner support through co-op patronage, the purchase of Class C stock, and owner loans will enable the co-op to serve even more of our community and allow us to continue to thrive.
The Friendship store is anticipated to open in the summer of 2015. Recently we closed on the six properties owned by private individuals and the Greater Friendship Missionary Baptist Church. The co-op now owns seven of the eight project properties, and we are in the process of purchasing the final property, which is owned by the city. We continue to work with the architects on design development and have scheduled a groundbreaking event this summer on July 12. This progress is exciting and each day makes the Friendship store more and more tangible.
Once open, the Friendship store will offer the Bryant-Central neighborhoods more fresh, healthful, sustainable food options. It will provide a communal space for gathering and education. The Friendship store will be a part of the community, respond to its needs, and give back through the SEED program and other efforts. We anticipate this second store will create 80–100 new living-wages jobs with benefits. We hope many of our new employees will reside in Bryant-Central neighborhoods. Furthermore, with 15 percent of our owners currently residing near the Friendship store, its presence will likely ease the congestion at the Franklin store resulting in a more pleasant shopping experience at both locations.
A month into our capital campaign, we have experienced great enthusiasm and generous support from our owners. This past week we surpassed half a million dollars in investments with $674,500 raised —27 percent of our goal. Thus far, investments have ranged from single shares of Class C stock at $500 to loans over $100,000. This speaks to the diversity of our ownership. With appealing investment opportunities and compelling projects, we are confident that in the next few months we will receive the support from our owners needed to make our expansions a reality.