The University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives (UWCC) and CooperationWorks! hosted 35 cooperative developers from 18 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands for The Art and Science of Cooperative Development training program. From June 27-30, attendees engaged with top cooperative developers from the United States and Canada on topics such as cooperative governance, feasibility studies, financial structures and group dynamics and communication.
“Skilled cooperative developers will be needed to support business conversion and municipal and regional cooperative development initiatives, and to advance the cooperative model overall. This program not only addresses cooperative developer education, it also furthers peer networking,” said Anne Reynolds, UWCC’s Executive Director.
Mayor Paul R. Soglin welcomed the group to Madison and reflected on the importance of cooperative entrepreneurship as a driver of bottom-up economic development. Alderwoman Rebecca Kemble echoed the Mayor’s message and shared how her first experiences as a worker-owner at Union Cab influenced her decision to run for office on the platform of building economic democracy in Madison.
The program was established in 1999 by CooperationWorks!, a national network of cooperative development centers and individuals serving communities in almost every state. Since its inception the training has provided critical instruction in all aspects of cooperative development to new practitioners in the field. UWCC is currently leading an effort to revamp the program. The new program features a high quality core curriculum, robust interactive teaching methods, and electronic delivery platforms.
Attendees heard from cooperative development experts: Margaret Bau, USDA Rural Development co-op specialist, Margaret Lund, cooperative consultant, Hilary Abell, co-founder of Project Equity, Seth Leon, manager of co-operative services for Alberta Community & Cooperative Association, UWCC Executive Director, Anne Reynolds and Cooperative Development Specialist Courtney Berner. Rob Brown from Cooperative Development Institute shared his experience with worker cooperative conversions, including the creation of the Island Employee Cooperative, which converted from a privately owned business in 2014 saving over 60 jobs in rural Maine. Leila Wolfrum, general manager of Durham Co-op Market, shared her co-op’s path to start-up and their work prioritizing community building and creating an equitable workplace. Hanif Nu'Man, Chief Sociologist at ReSCI Consulting, presented on group dynamics and communication. Cami Thomas and Laura Porterfield from Derute Consulting Cooperative, presenting a case study on building membership within their cooperative.
Farmer Co-ops Conference to Examine Global Agricultural Trade, Regulation, Cybersecurity
The 19th annual Farmer Cooperatives Conference returns to Minneapolis, MN on November 2-4, 2016. Presented by the University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives, the conference provides a forum for cooperative directors, managers, and those doing business with agricultural cooperatives to explore current issues that will shape the future of farmer-owned cooperatives.
This year’s program will address strategic issues such as cybersecurity and data privacy issues related to precision agriculture, updates on the policy environment and the changing regulatory landscape, the complementary roles of board and management play in strategic development and governance best practices.
Conference attendees will hear keynote presentations by two nationally recognized champions of U.S. agriculture and competitive markets. Joseph Glauber, is a Senior Research Fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute and previously served as the Chief Economist at United States Department of Agriculture. His keynote will focus on global market trends and the implications that trade partnerships will have on agricultural products and commodities. Jason Henderson, Associate Dean and Director of Purdue Extension, will share his outlook for the 2017 farm economy. Mr. Henderson, the former Vice President and Omaha Branch Executive at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, is a nationally recognized expert in agricultural and rural issues.
Jason Henderson, Associate Dean and Director of Purdue Extension
Joseph Glauber, Senior Research Fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute
The Farmer Cooperatives Conference brings speakers who represent a wide range of expertise and experience. Please check the conference website to see the full speaker line up, get program updates and register to attend: www.farmercoops.uwcc.wisc.edu.
Supporting Grocery Co-ops:
CCMA and Small and Strong Initiative
For many years, UWCC has supported established and start-up grocery cooperatives in Wisconsin by providing technical assistance and education to their boards and management. In the last year, UWCC has expanded its support of this rapidly growing cooperative sector through three exciting initiatives: the Consumer Cooperative Management Association (CCMA) Conference, Small & Strong: Support for Small Food Co-ops, and a new peer learning partnership with the Food Co-op Initiative.
The Consumer Cooperative Management Association (CCMA) Conference was established by the National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA) to support the broader consumer cooperative movement in the United States. Since its founding 60 years ago, CCMA has served as the premier national venue for grocery cooperative managers and board members to discuss cutting edge issues, generate further cooperation, and advance the movement.
In 2017, UWCC will assume management of CCMA and hosting 2017 CCMA on June 8-10, in Minneapolis, MN. We are humbled by the opportunity to serve the grocery cooperative community through this vibrant conference and carry on the innovations fostered by National Cooperative Business Association and Ann Hoyt, Professor Emerita at University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School of Human Ecology, through their stewardship of the conference. Stay tuned for details!
Small & Strong: Support for Small Food Co-ops
UWCC is excited to be part of Small & Strong, an initiative that provides support and training to small food cooperatives in the upper Midwest that may not have regular access to peer learning opportunities or consulting services. Small & Strong launched in 2015 as a collaborative effort between UWCC, Cooperative Development Services, Food Co-op Initiative, Northcountry Cooperative Foundation, CDS Consulting Co-op, and Shared Capital Cooperative. The first Small & Strong offering was a one-day conference in November 2015 that featured a variety of sessions led by industry experts and representatives from co-ops around the region, with a focus on the challenges and opportunities specific to small and rural food co-ops.
The 2016 Small & Strong program provides support via three channels: (1) a four-webinar series delivered in August and September that addressed both operational and governance issues (you can listen to the webinar recordings here), (2) free one-on-one phone consultations for a selected group of webinar participants, and (3) a one-day conference that will provide training and networking event for co-op staff and board members. The 2nd Annual Small & Strong Conference is scheduled for Saturday, November 12, 2016, at Normandale Community College in Bloomington, MN. The 2016 conference will feature new content and presenters, as well as a repeat of several of last year’s most popular topics, so repeat attendance is encouraged. Don't miss out on these great resources for your co-op!
Regional Peer Learning Calls for Start-Ups
UWCC’s newest strategic partnership is with Food Co-op Initiative (FCI), a national organization dedicated to assisting grocery co-op start-ups. UWCC is working closely with FCI to plan and deliver monthly peer learning calls to two cohorts of grocery co-op start-ups in Wisconsin, northern Illinois, and northeastern Iowa. Each call includes a specific learning topic as well as time for participants to update the group on their progress, ask questions, and support one another. In addition to the calls, FCI and UWCC staff members are working together to provide targeted technical assistance to the start-ups when appropriate. The partnership with FCI is a more efficient system for delivering technical assistance and peer learning tools to a group of co-ops and will leverage the relative strengths of the two organizations. FCI has deep operational experience, whereas UWCC specializes in cooperative finance and governance.
UWCC is proud to offer an increased level of support to grocery cooperatives through these new initiatives. If you have questions about UWCC’s work with grocery cooperatives or would like to access support, please contact Courtney Berner at firstname.lastname@example.org or 608.890.0966.
In Brief: Updates, Events and Publications
Rep. Mark Pocan speaks with worker-owners at Isthmus Engineering and Manufacturing
USDA Funds Rural Cooperative Development in Minnesota and Wisconsin - In honor of Co-op Month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Office of Rural Development has awarded the sixth round of funding to the University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives (UWCC) and Cooperative Network to develop cooperative businesses in rural communities across Wisconsin and Minnesota. The $200,000 Rural Cooperative Development Grant (RCDG) will focus on regional food systems; rural broadband access; senior cooperative housing; employee ownership as a business succession and retention strategy; and several cooperative education initiatives.
City of Madison Cooperative Development Program - The City of Madison Common Council approved a proposal submitted by the Madison Cooperative Development Coalition, for implementation of the Cooperative Enterprise Development Program. An alliance of 28 unions, community-based organizations, cooperatives, co-op developers, and lenders came together to create a program that will establish worker-owned cooperatives in Madison. Project partners and the City of Madison are reviewing contracts which are expected to be signed soon. Read UW-Madison Sociology PhD. student, Laura Hanson Schlachter's article that examines the new levels of cooperation being created through the Madison Cooperative Development Coalition.
Supporting Socially-Disadvantaged Groups UWCC has partnered with two organizations to support the implementation of USDA's Socially-Disadvantaged Groups Grants. Through a partnership with the Cooperative Development Foundation, UWCC will provide support for existing and new homecare cooperatives. The second group, The Intertribal Agriculture Council, has asked UWCC to support Native American Tribal cooperative development initiatives.
USDA Cooperative Law Update UWCC staff has been participating in USDA’s Cooperative Law project, which is using volunteers from across the U.S. to provide research on their state’s cooperative statutes. Staff has also coordinated participation in the project by a UW Law and Entrepreneurship Clinic intern and an independent cooperative professional. This project is providing a much-needed update and expansion of USDA’s 1985 compendium of state agricultural cooperative statutes.
Cooperatives are incorporated under state statutes, which significantly vary permitted business activities, and in cooperative finance, membership, and governance requirements. Volunteers are using questionnaires developed by USDA Rural Business-Cooperative Services to research and provide information on statute provisions in a consistent format. The collected information is being used to develop a searchable website for statue topics by individual state, or across states for comparison. This resource will support the work of cooperative developers, attorneys, and other cooperative professionals, as well as policy makers who are developing or updating cooperative statutory provisions.
2nd Annual Small & Strong Conference
November 12, 2016
Normandale Community College, Bloomington, MN More information
Co-op Director’s Forum
December 12, 2016, 9AM-3PM
Foremost Farms, Baraboo, WI Register today
Co-hosted with Cooperative Network, the Co-op Director’s Forum is an interactive forum for new and veteran directors from cooperatives of all types and sectors. Based on director input, the forum will focus on cooperative equity issues; legal issues; and governance best practices.