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Video Length: 6:14 Minutes

This small town had no grocery store. So they built their own.

The village of Cody, Nebraska (population 149) hadn't had a grocery store in more than a decade. Located just minutes from the South Dakota border, in a county larger than the state of Connecticut, residents had to drive 76 miles roundtrip to find basic necessities.

The Center for Rural Affairs (CFRA) proudly played a part in this rural success story.

Sign for C Market in a rural field The Circle C Market was the first grocery store in Cody in more than a decade. (Photo: Center for Rural Affairs)

In the spring of 2009, students and teachers at Cody-Kilgore High School contacted Kathie Starkweather, Farm & Community Director for CFRA, and their idea grew into a solid plan: a student business incubator with a grocery store as the flagship business. Starkweather then helped the community obtain a USDA Rural Development grant.

Town of Cody Nebraska The town of Cody, Nebraska is known as the town "too tough to die." (Photo: Center for Rural Affairs)

Over the next year and a half, Starkweather and the Center worked with project leaders to provide guidance and technical assistance, as well as point them towards other resources for success.
Starkweather recalled, “I remember having a focus group meeting and one of my favorite people, an older woman in the community, gave me a huge hug and said, ‘you know, this is about more than the grocery store. It’s about the entire community.'"

“It was an honor and a privilege getting to work with the teachers, students and community members on this project and the friendships I made in Cody will last forever,” said Starkweather.

Cody calls itself "The Town Too Tough to Die" — and with the opening of Circle C Market, we see exactly why.

This article previously appeared on The Center for Rural Affairs' blog on October 18, 2012.

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