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The Rocky Mountain News has an interesting story about how Whole Foods, which has made a commitment to helping local suppliers build their businesses, gave a $50,000 loan to Colorado-based Haystack Mountain Goat Dairy, which will use the money to “become a certified organic producer” and “allow the company to replace an outdated and wasteful irrigation system with a modern, water-conserving one.”

“Haystack Mountain is one of the first five area recipients of a program the Austin, Texas-based grocer announced late last year, pledging $10 million in direct loans nationally to encourage and nurture local producers,” the News reports.

“In this part of the world, Whole Foods has made five loans totaling $219,000, and there are at least 10 more applicants in the pipeline, said Will Paradise, the retailer's Rocky Mountain regional vice president.”

The rates are about half those that would be charged by a bank, according to the company, and the loans are geared to both small, existing producers as well as start-up companies.
KC's View:
This strikes us as an extraordinary way to do business – to use money to commit not to suppliers, but to a way of life, a way of looking at the world. So many retailers are inner-focused, almost to the point of narcissism…they don’t see beyond their own walls and operational needs. (In some quarters, this goes beyond narcissism and enters the realm of paranoia.)

There is a sense here of a company seeding the ground to see what happens, to see if it can make a difference.