U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Dot gov

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.


Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock () or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Success Stories

Start.Coop Launches Market-Ready Start-Ups by Scaling Out

Kevin Lambert
A group of Start.Coop's incubation and acceleration cohorts

Cooperatives for a Better World, a Manchester, NH, nonprofit known as Start.Coop, knows that there is no easy path to entrepreneurship. Its innovators—using extensive backgrounds in education, housing, agriculture, finance, social justice and other essential sectors that thrive under diverse participatory coordination—are always looking for more and better ways to serve its members. Through training and technical assistance (TAT), Start.Coop facilitates a development process to help co-ops scale their business. But helping one co-op at a time is not entirely efficient, so the TAT provider saw a need for incubating and accelerating its proven development process within a group.

Building Out Storage to BUILD UP RELIABILITY
Storage capacity is among the many typical bottlenecks that local food systems must widen to become more efficient. And with the reality of growing demand comes the reputational pressure to keep up with it, as farmers and producers will only do business with consistent distribution partners they can rely on to sell their products. Berkfield set his focus on securing more square feet of cooling and freezing space to sustain their heavy increase in operational activity. The Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation (BDCC)—a friend to the org—offered a large warehouse in its industrial business park building, and Food Connects jumped at the opportunity to take it over.

The next step was to outfit the space with temperature- and humidity-controlled storage. In 2022, Food Connects launched a capital campaign to raise funds for the project through diverse investment partners. The State of Vermont contributed $150,000, and Senator Patrick Leahy committed $500,000 through congressionally directed spending. USDA Rural Development—which helped the org’s earlier growth with a $30,100 Community Facilities Grant in ‘18 and $47,500 Economic Impact Initiative Grant in ‘21—obligated a $50,000 Rural Business Development Grant, securing healthy local food options for thousands of rural residents throughout the Northeast.

Obligation Amount:
Year(s) of Obligation:
Congressional District:
  • New Hampshire: District 1