85
      Friday
      84 / 62
      Saturday
      85 / 65
      Sunday
      86 / 65

      Serious questions about business plan that determined state-funded food co-op was ready to open

      Former general manager calls co-op business plan "work of fiction".

      Nearly $400,000 in state money was used to open the Eat-to-Live Food Co-op on the South S ide, but nobody will discuss why it closed two months later.

      The leader of the Southside Community Coalition, Shirley Rowser did not show up to a scheduled interview and has ignored several requests for comment since.

      In a Post Standard article, Rowser blamed an unqualified general manager. CNYCentral's Dora Scheidell spoke with former general manager Jim Diamond on the phone Friday.

      "The business plan that was presented during my interview was a work of fiction and the architect created a work of art, not a grocery store," says Diamond.

      The Eat to Live Food Co-op has posted temporary store hours claiming they're open from noon-4pm Mondays through Fridays. We showed up at 1:30 pm Friday and the co-op appeared to be closed.

      Diamond Breland lives down the street and is disappointed with the sudden closure and lack of explanation.

      "I wish people that are writing the grants and giving the grant money, I really blame them. They should be more responsible because people's lives and livelihoods are at stake. It's outrageous," says Breland.

      The state grant was obtained by the CNY Regional Economic Development Council chaired by Rob Simpson who released this statement to CNYCentral:

      "While we are disappointed to learn of the co-op's closure, it is our understanding that this closure is temporary, and that the Southside Community Coalition is working with community partners to get the co-op reopened this spring. We look forward to gaining a better understanding of the issues that lead to the closure and getting the project back on track."

      We contacted the New York State comptroller's office who said the grant money likely came from the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) which is not subject to the comptroller's oversight or review because most of their spending is off budget. We have a call into ESDC and are waiting for a response.