BananasFARGO, ND – The North Dakota Rural Grocery Initiative (NDRGI) will welcome grocers and resource providers from across the state to the North Dakota Rural Grocer Summit on Sunday, Sept. 10 at the Delta by Marriott in Fargo. Registration begins at 9:30 a.m. and the event begins at 10 a.m. The annual summit provides rural grocers with opportunities to learn best practices and network with fellow grocers and industry professionals. NDRGI is an example of how cooperatives demonstrate the cooperative principle of concern for community, which promotes the future vitality of rural North Dakota.

 “It’s becoming increasingly difficult to keep a grocery store open in a small town,” says Lori Capouch, rural development director for the North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives (NDAREC). “This effort is in response to the closure of more than 10 of our state’s rural, independent grocery stores since 2013. This summit attracts grocers from our state’s small communities, who will have an opportunity to network and to learn about operating strategies for small operators.”

 Keynote Speaker Dr. Kathy Draeger, statewide director of the University of Minnesota Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships, will explain the benefits of cooperating with local food producers. 

 “Rural grocery stores can benefit by working with local farmers, not only by providing locally grown food to their customers, but by serving as a point of sale for local food back into the wholesale market. If successful, the role of the rural grocery store could transform from the passive endpoint of a global food distribution system to an active market participant, playing a pivotal role in the wholesale distribution of local foods in rural areas.”

The summit will also include presentation on a distribution pre-feasibility study, food safety, marketing strategies and cost-saving store upgrades.


Organized in 2016 by the Rural Electric and Telecommunications Development Center, the North Dakota Rural Grocery Initiative (NDRGI) is a group of rural grocers and technical assistance providers who are working together to address the sustainability of rural grocery stores. NDRGI focuses on providing education and networking opportunities for rural grocers and addressing distribution issues in rural areas. For more information, visit