Feb. 4 2009 12:00 AM

Dave Finet, general manager of the East Lansing Food Co-op, says feedback from a public forum held on Jan. 22 detailed a near unanimous agreement to begin planning for a new location in Lansing.

About 40 people attended the meting at Gone Wired Café to discuss the possibility of expanding the co-op’s operations into Lansing. Finet says many customers who frequent the Northwind Drive location in East Lansing travel from Lansing.

Finet says the discussion covered many topics but focused on two concerns about overhead. The first is how to build a larger base of customers in Lansing and the second revolves around how to replace customers at the East Lansing store if a new location is established.

While the first concern might take more time to address, Finet says ELFCO is already designing a marketing plan that emphasizes student outreach to help replenish any potential loss of customers at the East Lansing store.

The financial viability of another co-op location was also discussed at the forum. ELFCO experienced what Finet called "financial struggles" after expansion in 2004 and 2005, and he says the co-op is determined to stay solvent. "We are certainly going to make sure this doesn’t put the whole organization in jeopardy," Finet says.

Another public forum will be held in the near future, but dates and times have not been established.