“The Cooperative opens doors in many areas that will result in growth opportunities. The Cooperative puts me in touch with people who want to resolve important issues facing our industry, particularly those associated with purchasing, financial planning, expansion and exit strategies.”

-Rick Gowell, Gowell’s Store, Inc., Litchfield

“I see this Cooperative as the future of independents. Working closely with them to identify areas of need and possibilities for growth in sales and profit. And developing the independent into better trainers and good business people. Planning their future around cutting edge strategies, strengthening their respective opportunities to compete in an ever-changing market place. Securing the best for their families and employees. And making the independent the long-term business model for the future.”

-Stephen Phair, Buddies IGA, Oakland

“The Cooperative is Maine and New England’s best opportunity to create a functioning, farm-to-family food system that will address food security, stabilize capital in the agriculture sector, and offer jobs and investment opportunities for the region’s farmers, value-added food craftspeople, distributors, and independent grocery store operators. The Cooperative’s unique experience, expertise, and capacity to build sustainable relationships between partners throughout Maine and New England’s food system gives me hope that, sooner rather than later, we will achieve the ambitious dream of Mainers feeding Mainers with fresh, local, affordable food and agricultural products.”

-Nate Rudy, City Manager of Hallowell, Creates!

“In 2011, CEI began a specialty lending program called the Healthy Food Finance Initiative, supporting Maine’s independent grocers and making connections to Maine’s food producers. Mark Sprackland and the Independent Retailers Shared Services Cooperative quickly became key go-to resources. Mark brings significant sector expertise to the table to strengthen these critical community assets. CEI is proud to support the cooperative and the work it does to sustain vibrant, robust grocers across the region.”

-Daniel Wallace, Program Developer, Sustainable Agriculture, CEI