Renderings show the plan for Food Commons Fresno to build a community food hub in Southwest Fresno by 2020.

published on April 5, 2018 - 2:23 PM
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Food Commons Fresno’s direct public offering will help the organization address issues in inequality, access to food and wages while expanding the business and building a community food hub in Southwest Fresno.

“It has always been our intent to expand the food commons business model within Fresno to include what we have now; the farm, the distribution of food and many different channels, including retail, and the direct-to-consumer business Ooooby,” said Warren King, president of the Food Commons Fresno Community Corporation board.

Incorporated by The Fresno Food Commons Trust in 2014, Food Commons Fresno strives to provide fresh food that is locally grown and packed in the Valley, and now King and his team are ready to further their success through their direct public offering, giving ordinary Fresnans the chance to own a piece of the action.

“We structured the direct public offering so that an individual can invest as little as $100,” King said.

Up to 499 investors can purchase the Class A Preferred Stock with a minimum investment of $500 with a price per share of $10. The target dividend for Class A is 2 percent.

Up to 1,500 investors can purchase the Class B Preferred Stock with a minimum investment of $2,250 and a price per share of $15. The targeted dividend is 3 percent.

Investors can also purchase a five-year term promissory note with a $100 minimum investment or purchase pre-paid cards valued at $25 and $50 per card that can be redeemed at 150 percent of their value at the company’s retail locations.

“There’s very little risk for people who are lower or middle income, and we know that we need to market the DPO to people who are outside Fresno or the San Joaquin Valley who have higher income and see and believe that there need to be changes within the food system to improve access and affordability,” King said.

King added that the offering is a way for the Fresno community to own a part of the food system as only California residents can invest.

“It specifically allows us to focus on the Fresno community to take ownership of this piece of the food system and directly have an economic stake and a social stake and an environmental stake in the business,” King said.

Central to the company’s vision is a community food hub (The Hub) planned for 2020 and set to be constructed in Southwest Fresno.

“The community has been very involved in the food commons and all of the discussions and the formation of this specific plan for Southwest Fresno.” King said.

With its retail market, distribution center and public spaces, King hopes that The Hub can help attract more businesses and people to the area.

“It becomes an anchor to help the community meet its aspirations,” King said. “If you can provide living wage jobs and economic activity in a community then the real estate values start to come up and you start to attract people who are leaving Southwest Fresno to stay in Southwest Fresno.”

In growing Food Commons Fresno, King also wants to “redistribute that profit within the system through higher wages, benefits, paid time off and eventually a profit sharing plan.”

“We’re trying to address social disparities around wages,” King said. “There’s no reason really that folks should be making minimum wage when the business is producing millions of dollars in profits except that the owners of the business are accumulating that profit for themselves.”

While the company’s goals are ambitious, the direct public offering is only one step in achieving its goal of providing locally sourced food and creating jobs for local communities not only in Fresno but throughout the Valley.

“If we can make it work in Fresno we can look for opportunities in other communities in other parts of Fresno where we can expand. The ultimate goal and plan would be half a dozen networked food commons businesses vertically integrated within the food system that could share resources, share people, buy and sell from one another,” King said.

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