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University of Minnesota Extension

Economic contribution of the Viroqua Food Cooperative

Key findings

  • In 2017, the Viroqua Food Cooperative generated an estimated $12.3 million of economic activity in Vernon County, supporting 109 jobs. Industries most impacted were organic crop farming, wholesale trade and agriculture support services.
  • If it expands as planned, the Cooperative will contribute an estimated $17.6 million annually to Vernon County’s economy.
  • Expansion construction will contribute an estimated $7.2 million in economic activity to Vernon County. Industries experiencing the most impact include food services and drinking places, ambulatory health care and professional and business services.
  • In 2023, at fully expanded capacity, the Viroqua Food Cooperative will contribute an estimated $20.3 million in economic activity to the state of Wisconsin.

About this report

More than 3,600 members own the Viroqua Food Cooperative in Viroqua, Wisconsin. The Cooperative promotes health and supports local agricultural operations. It also serves as a retail outlet for local growers and producers. In 2015, the Viroqua Food Cooperative completed a market study analysis. Study results suggested the market could support an expanded retail store. The additional space could feasibly include a bakery, a wider selection of meat, poultry, and seafood and an expanded deli. Current store departments could also benefit from a larger footprint.

Viroqua Food Cooperative is funding the expansion project through a variety of sources, including owner capital, a local bank, a Wisconsin Community Development Investment grant, and a federal New Markets Tax Credit. As part of the New Markets Tax Credit, Equity Plus, LLC hired University of Minnesota to conduct a study measuring the economic contribution of the food cooperative. This analysis includes an overview of the demographics and economy of Vernon County (home to Viroqua), along with trends in the grocery and supermarket industry.

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Author: Brigid Tuck, Extension, senior economic impact analyst

Reviewed in 2018

Page survey

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