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by local farmers became a likelihood. 28 On August 7, 1943, Siemens introduced this idea to a meeting of the Mennonite Agricultural Adviso ry Committee with the result that a five member sub-committee was set up to investigate the feasibility of such a plant. The results of this study were heard on September 11, 1943, whereupon it was agreed to proceed with the organization and construction of a processing plant called Co op Vegetable Oils.
To solicit broad support from the community, advocates of the scheme also held schoolhouse meetings with farmers and businessmen throughout the area. Farmers were told that sunflowers would give them control of their destiny and the scheme was represented to the rest of the community as an opportunity for rural industrial development. It would create work for the young people leaving the farm, it would foster the expansion of business and finally, it was presented as an opportunity for the whole community to help themselves through co-operation."
On March 18, 1944, the company was incorporated with the first annual meeting held in April of the same year. The first Board of Directors was elected at this meeting and Altona was chosen for the location of the plant. While 1. 1. Siemens had earlier advocated Win nipeg, Brandon or Portage la Prairie as logical sites for the plant, by April of 1944, it was the general concensus of the shareholders that it should be built where the leadership and support base were. In voting on the site Rhineland towns received 220 out of 227 votes with most going to Altona. (Altona 187, Horndean 18, Plum Coulee 15, and Winkler
One of the first actions of the new Board of Directors headed by 1. 1. Siemens (President), and D. K. Friesen (Vice-President), was to raise money for the new venture. Fund raising was a necessity because the Manitoba Government was becoming less and less co-operative. While Premier Garson promised that the government would guarantee a $40,000 bond in August 1944, this only covered a portion of the rapidly rising cost of construction which would reach $160,000 before the plant was completed. The Rhineland Consumer's Co-operative had provided the initial research funds to examine the feasibility of the plant and other area co-operatives contributed $45,545, but much more was needed to bring the plant into operation. 31 Partly because of the desire to retain co operative control ofthe plant, but also because outside investments were not forthcoming, much of the needed capital was raised locally.
J. 1. Siemens and D. K. Friesen canvassed the countryside on fund raising drives and the combination of Siemens' enthusiasm and Friesen's business acumen opened people's purses even when there was little money to give.