The Community Share issue raised £18,360, just shy of our target of £20,000. The Share Booster Award we achieved has now doubled this amount and with some shares bought post the Booster deadline, and interest, we have £39941 in a separate bank account. This will not be used until we have ownership of the land and are ready to start building work. We also have a further £12k in the bank from previous grant awards and a further £138k pledged to us from another 3 grants. In addition, we have long term loan of £28k we can call on if needed and arrangements for a bridging loan of £90k available to cover any gaps between incurring costs and receiving pledged grants. Finally, two further grant applications are in an advanced stage and if they achieve our expectation it will minimise or cancel any need for loans. Please note, shares can still be purchased at £20 each.
The delays with the contract to transfer the land for the shop to us has been the biggest frustration to our project. However, we have been advised that the landowners solicitors are "anxious" to conclude the contract before the end of March! All things being equal we could then start work on the site shortly after and possibly start actual building in June with an Autumn opening. Fingers crossed!
One activity that has proven beneficial to the committee has been the attendance at a wide range of workshops, informal conferences and online learning opportunities from a range of organisations that support community projects such as ours. Recent examples have been workshops on community cafes, community engagement, fund raising and online live "webinars" on subjects ranging from governence for community businesses to the use of social media to support community businesses. Over the last 4 years I have taken part in more than 30 such events. Some provide new information whilst others help confirm we are on the right track with our business plan and concept.
Now we have we have transferred to a management company, elected by shareholding members, we need to continue this learning process to keep up to speed with best practice.
Thanks must go to those members of the Steering Group who did not seek to join the Management Committee, for the time and advice they given the project over the past 4 years. Hopefully we will have an operating shop and cafe during 2018.