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UWCC Expands Advisory Committee

Members of the UWCC Advisory Committee 
The University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives (UWCC) has expanded its Advisory Committee to include a more diverse range of cooperative sectors. Since its founding in 1962, UWCC has benefited from the guidance of an advisory committee. Comprised of cooperative and university leaders, the committee plays an important role in the UWCC’s strategic direction and provides feedback on education, outreach, and research initiatives. Additionally, committee members provide perspective on developments within their cooperative sector and important linkages to the boarder cooperative community. In expanding the size of the committee, UWCC is rounding out the breadth of advice that its receives from cooperative sectors.

In early September, Advisory Committee members met in Madison to review the UWCC's activities and strategic direction.  The Advisory Committee members include:
  • Margaret Bau, Cooperative Development Specialist, USDA Rural Development   
  • Matthew Brandrup, President & CEO, Rural Electric Supply Cooperative 
  • Jim Dell, CEO and President, Landmark Services Cooperative
  • Sally Dischler, President & CEO, Heartland Credit Union 
  • Elizabeth Drame, Professor and Consultant, Derute Consulting Cooperative         
  • Anya Firszt, General Manager, Willy Street Co-op             
  • Jeremy Foltz, Professor and Chair, Department of Agriculture and Applied Economics, UW-Madison         
  • Keith Heikes, Chief Executive Officer, Cooperative Resources International  
  • Melissa Hughes, Chief Mission Officer and General Counsel, CROPP Cooperative
  • Jaimes Johnson, Director of Community Partnerships, UW Credit Union  
  • Jeff Lyon, General Manager, FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative              
  • Ronald D. McFall, Partner, Stoel Rives LLP
  • Pam Mehnert, General Manager, Outpost Natural Foods   
  • William Nelson, Board Chair, Ralph K. Morris Foundation
  • Ole Olson, Engineer, Isthmus Engineering and Manufacturing Cooperative           
  • Jay Porter, Chief Executive Officer, Adams-Columbia Electric Cooperative    
  • Doug Reinemann, Associate Dean for Extension and Outreach, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, UW-Madison    
  • Daniel Smith, President & CEO, Cooperative Network     
  • David Trechter, Professor, Department of Agricultural Economics, UW-River Falls
  • Monica White, Assistant Professor, Gaylord Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies and Department of Community & Environmental Sociology, UW-Madison    

Speakers Announced for the
Farmer Cooperatives Conference

The 21st Annual Farmer Cooperatives Conference, to be held November 7-9, 2018 in St. Paul, MN, will offer expert analysis of the cutting-edge issues facing farmer-owned cooperatives.
Strategic issues being highlighted include:  retaining talent, leveraging sustainability for competitive advantage, trade relations and U.S. agriculture, and CEO succession planning, to name a few.

Over the two-day event, industry experts and cooperative leaders will share best practices and solutions to challenges facing cooperatives. This year, Chuck Conner, CEO & president of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, will kick off the event addressing election results and the policy environment for cooperatives in the coming year. Other speakers include:
  • Michael Boland, Professor, University of Minnesota Food Industry Center;
  • Tessa Burgener, Marketing Communications Manager, Aurora Cooperative
  • Tom Field, Director, Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln;
  • Kimberly Frederickson, Director of Learning and Organizational Development,  CROPP Cooperative;
  • Tim Goodman, Partner at Dorsey & Whitney;
  • Warren Jibb, Director, GROWMARK;
  • Ann Kafer, Vice President of Human Resources, GROWMARK
  • Pete Kappelman, Board President, Land O’Lakes
  • Phil Kenkel, Professor and Bill Fitzwater Cooperative Chair, Oklahoma State University
  • Kendra Kissane, Sustainability Lead & Coordinator, Michigan Milk Producers Association;
  • Cathy Resler, Head of Global Sustainability, Ocean Spray 
  • Brian Schouvieller, Vice President CHS Country Operations Eastern Region, CHS Inc.
  • David Scheevel, Chairman of the Board, Foremost Farms
  • Jeff Spence, Vice President, Grain, Crystal Valley
  • Mike Trosen, General Manager, Meadowland Farmers Co-op
Register now to take advantage of early bird rates, which end Friday, October 5th, 2018!  Special room rates are available when you book early at the Intercontinental Riverfront St. Paul. 
Program Agenda

Planning for Co-ops to Address
Community Food Needs

The North Carolina-based cooperative development organization Carolina Common Enterprise (CCE) and UWCC have collaborated to identify rural areas that lack access to healthy, affordable food despite sufficient market demand to support a brick-and-mortar grocery store through a project called “Carolina Markets.” This program is funded through CCE’s United States Department of Agriculture’s Rural Cooperative Development Grant. The co-op model is often employed to meet needs not met by traditional corporate businesses and grocery chains. Carolina Markets may lead to the development of co-operative business to meet food security needs of underserved rural communities.

Through GIS mapping and urban planning analysis by UWCC’s Cooperative Development Specialist, Esther West, the project surveyed the entire state of North Carolina to identify areas with both food needs and demand.  Supplemented with the CCE’s local knowledge, the team selected clusters of census tracts to proceed with on-the-ground research, which they are now working on.
According to the USDA’s Economic Research Service, North Carolina ranks 9th in the United States in prevalence of food insecurity with nearly 15% of the population living in food-insecure households. North Carolina continues to have unmet demand for grocery, making it well suited for this investigation. In a traditional grocery market analysis, it’s unusual to take into consideration food needs within primarily rural, low income areas that have often faced racial justice issues. In fact, these are often ignored areas – which is why meeting the grocery needs of these communities is particularly important.

The finished work will include recommendations for further exploration into making a possible grocery co-op a strong business. Co-ops sometimes have advantages large corporations lack, such as having a mission-based focus opening the door for particular funding opportunities, finding areas of zoning that give benefits to low-income workers or customer bases, or connecting with relevant municipal initiatives. Other considerations include finding a location with other thriving businesses, having a product mix tailored to customers’ needs, or even having a non-traditional product mix, such as hardware and groceries.

Our hope is that analysis and mapping can work for communities to better inform planning and use of the cooperative model.

UWCC Renews Support for Rural Cooperatives and Communities 

Minnesota and Wisconsin are ranked first and second, respectively, for the number of cooperative businesses in the United States, employing approximately 69,000 residents.  Many of those cooperatives operate and support rural populations by keeping jobs and wealth in their communities. The University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives (UWCC) and its grant partner Cooperative Network, are excited to continue providing technical assistance to rural cooperatives through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Cooperative Development Grant (RCDG). The RCDG program exists to help rural cooperatives and small businesses expand, create jobs, and strengthen their capacity to serve rural citizens and communities.
UWCC and Cooperative Network see ongoing and significant demand for cooperative development assistance in rural areas of the Upper Midwest and the $200,000 RCDG award will help meet this demand. UWCC and Cooperative Network will continue providing technical assistance and counseling to existing cooperatives and groups interested in forming new cooperative businesses in Wisconsin and Minnesota.
The program is committed to strengthen the vitality of our rural economies and create new job opportunities through cooperatives. Types of assistance available include organizational development, cooperative education, board training, strategic planning, and support during feasibility and business planning activities. Key project areas include:  local food systems; rural healthcare and childcare; affordable and senior housing; the promotion of employee ownership; and several cooperative education initiatives.

In Brief: Updates & Resources

UWCC Awarded Workers to Owners Municipal Partnership Grant - UWCC was awarded a $6,000 Municipal Partnership Grant from Workers to Owners and the Surdna Foundation. This funding will bolster our capacity to partner with the City of Madison in the identification and conversion of traditional businesses to worker cooperatives and reinforce the culture of cooperation in our city. The goal of this program is to institutionalize such efforts into the City of Madison’s long term business development initiatives, promoting quality, family supporting jobs and democratic workplaces through the creation and strengthening of worker cooperatives.

The Main Street Employee Ownership Act has passed!  The first employee ownership-focused law in more than twenty years, the Main Street Employee Ownership Act encourages lending to small businesses interested in converting to an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) or a cooperative. Specific features of the bill include:
  • Expanding the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) ability to aid in the establishment of ESOPs through lending practices
  • Facilitating SBA loans to cooperatives
  • Supporting the SBA in training and educating small business owners on the benefits of employee ownership
Cooperative Solutions for Community Needs Webinar Recording Available - UWCC has launched a webinar series that explores how cooperatives can be a solution for unmet needs in rural and urban communities. The following webinar recordings are available on the UWCC website: The series continues with the following scheduled webinars:
  • Cooperatives and Community Broadband Needs 
    September 27th, 12-1 pm CDT
  • Cooperatives and Community-Owned Businesses
    October 17, 2018, 12-1 pm Central
UWCC Hosts Brazilian Transportation Cooperative Leaders - Recently, UWCC was pleased to host 35 cooperative leaders from the Brazilian transportation cooperative sector. One of the fastest growing segments of the Brazilian cooperative system, there are 1,205 transport cooperatives, representing nearly one-fifth of Brazil's cooperatives. The sector is comprised of 270 cargo or freight transport cooperatives, 260 taxi cooperatives, and approximately 800 cooperatives are dedicated to passenger or collective transportation. The group traveled to Madison, WI to learn about platform cooperatives, governance best practices, cultivating member loyalty, and capital campaigns.

Upcoming Events

This two day event brings together agricultural cooperative leadership to address competitive issues for farmer-owned cooperatives.

St. Paul, MN | November 7-9, 2018
Small & Strong is a one-day networking and training event for staff and board of small and startup food co-ops (under $3M in annual sales).

Bloomington, MN | October 27, 2018
Co-hosted with Cooperative Network, this event brings together cooperative board directors from all sectors to network and address pressing issues for cooperatives.

Cashton, WI | December, 12, 2018
Registration coming soon!
This pivotal cooperative event brings together a broad spectrum of cooperative sectors to build on and amplify the economic impact co-ops have in the U.S. and internationally.

Arlington, VA | October 3-5, 2018
More information
Copyright © 2018 University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives, All rights reserved.

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