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Ashland Food Co-op could branch out

Ashland Food Co-op has taken preliminary steps that could lead to a satellite store in Phoenix or Talent.

The co-op’s board of directors has requested development of a marketing study to cover the Bear Creek area including Talent, Phoenix and the county. That work is underway, but could lead to hiring of a consultant for a study with board approval.

“Since the Almeda Fire, we have been listening for opportunities to partner with and assist the Talent and/or Phoenix communities in their longer-term recovery efforts,” Emile Amarotico, co-op general manager wrote in an email response to questions. “We are far from having a fully hatched vision or site in mind. We’ll continue to listen and gather information with which to assess our ability to make any meaningful contribution.”

A board goal for 2020 was to look at expanding beyond Ashland with consideration of a satellite store in Talent or Phoenix. In November board Vice President Julie O’Dwyer sent an email to City of Talent and Talent Urban Renewal Agency officials expressing interest in development of not only a store but a cooperative village with housing, retail, incubator space and public amenities. That vision matches those prepared by TUIRA for its Gateway site.

The agency is presently considering development of a transitional housing at the Gateway site for Almeda fire victims before moving on to the envisioned mixed-use development.

“The idea of possibly having the Coop expend into the City of Talent, including those early concepts of the broader vision, is very exciting indeed,” Darby Ayers-Flood, TURA board chair and town mayor, wrote in a response to O’Dwyer.

TURA has suggested to the Co-op that they might be able to give a grant to assist with marketing study expenses if the report was shared, said Amarotico. Co-op officials will also explore options for assistance with Southern Oregon Economic Development, Inc.

A shopper peruses the aisles of the Ashland Food Co-op in this 2020 photo. The co-op is now considering a satellite store in Talent or Phoenix. Mail Tribune and Ashland Tidings file photo.