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At NCBA CLUSA-hosted event, USDA Deputy Under Secretary O’Brien calls co-ops “bright spot” in rural America

mike-PressClub 9939fCo-ops are a “bright spot” for job creation in rural America, and with “wise, strategic” investment in cooperative business, the public and private sectors can help provide the influx of capital Middle America needs to match the rate of post-recession economic recovery enjoyed by metropolitan centers along the East and West Coasts.

That was the message from Doug O’Brien, Deputy Under Secretary for USDA Rural Development, at last week’s Co-op Month Forum and Panel Discussion hosted by NCBA CLUSA at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

The event highlighted the role of co-ops in growing the U.S. economy and creating sustainable jobs, and featured development experts from the USDA, U.S. Small Business Administration and the private sector.

Co-ops currently provide 185,000 jobs in rural America and deliver services to more than 130 million member-owners and customers. Last year, the nation’s farmer co-ops alone charted record sales of more than $246 billion.

Ripe with what O’Brien called “historic opportunities and potential” in the areas of infrastructure and workforce development, rural America is poised for significant growth and holds unexpected benefits for investors, he said.

According to the study, “Promoting Growth for All Regions,” released in 2012 by the Organization for Economic and Cooperative Development, the rural regions of some 30 industrialized countries worldwide—among them the U.S.—are growing faster than urban regions in the same countries, O’Brien said. The study also shows that investment in rural areas tends to yield greater returns on public and private dollars than comparable investment in urban areas.

“It’s time for policymakers to look to rural places when they’re thinking about investments,” he said. “And it’s time for those who already work in rural America to think about what they’re doing and consider whether they can do it better.”

O’Brien’s call for more strategic development in rural America was echoed by the five panelists who participated in the October 22 discussion.

Public investments in rural America administered by the USDA are prioritizing local food production in high-poverty areas, said Lillian Salerno, administrator of the USDA’s Rural Business-Cooperative Service. One in four children in rural America lives in poverty, and one in eight children struggles with “deep” poverty. These households exist well below the poverty line, or on about $11,500 per year for a family of four.

In the Southern U.S., Salerno added, poverty is exacerbated by food deserts—communities with little or no access to fresh, affordable fruits and vegetables. In such food deserts, the USDA’s Rural Business-Cooperative Service has already funded hundreds of farmers markets and other rural food hubs—many of them “co-ops or potential co-ops,” she said.

Largely driven by consumers—especially young people—who expect to know whether their food is sustainably and ethically produced, the “food hub” movement is gaining momentum across the country, said Deb Trocha, executive director of the Indiana Cooperative Development Center and NCBA CLUSA Board member. Farmers markets, once a “hobby,” she said, are now operated as profitable businesses. Co-ops, too, are taking the cue and increasingly prioritizing strategic planning and capitalization, she said.

Young people are also behind the new “shared economy,” said Ann Marie Mehlum, associate administrator for the U.S. Small Business Administration, referring to the ridesharing service Uber and Airbnb, a community marketplace for accommodations worldwide.
There’s “energy” around sharing resources, and co-ops should tap into that “natural overlap,” Mehlum said, emphasizing characteristics such as democratic member control, ethical behavior and concern for community.

Leta Mach, who teaches what it means to be a member of a co-op to parents and young children through her work at Parent Cooperative Preschoolers International, said education early on is critical to raising a generation of young people who understand the value of co-ops. At the Greenbelt Cooperative Alliance, where Mach is a member, children are learning entrepreneurship by selling bicycle-blended smoothies at local farmers markets, she said.

Many organizations are advocating for the inclusion of co-op education in curricula nationwide, especially at the MBA level, said Michael Beall, president and CEO of NCBA CLUSA and moderator of the discussion.

A “groundswell” of support from students and parents is needed to change curricula, Trocha said. Co-op leaders could volunteer as guest speakers at schools and show up at career fairs to help spur awareness, she said.

“We’re swinging below our weight,” said Chuck Snyder, president and CEO of the National Cooperative Bank. “We really could be more influential than we are.”

But does the cooperative movement have room for a new crop of young leaders? Georgetown University, Beall said, boasts its own $20 million-strong student-run credit union, but the vast majority of those students go on to Wall Street, not careers in co-op leadership and development.

“This is the brain drain we’re talking about,” Beall said. “We don’t find space for all of these talented young folks.”

When a board of directors recently asked Beall how co-ops could attract young people, he said a “tough answer” immediately came to mind: “Step aside. Somebody has to create a space. If board makeup doesn’t involve folks who are 35, I think co-ops are missing an opportunity to inject a totally different mindset into their operations.”

As the cooperative community advocates for change—whether in curriculum, leadership or federal policy—Beall left audience members with a threefold challenge to “live Co-op Month” now:

• Institutional—self identify as a co-op

• Professional—collaborate across sectors

• Personal—make a co-op part of your everyday routine

“All of us have habits. Choose in some way in your life to bring a co-op in. That could be opening an account at a credit union, buying Organic Valley, or telling your realtor that you want to live in a housing co-op,” Beall said.

That level of professional and personal ownership will help demonstrate that cooperatives are “not a sideline of the U.S. economy for the millions of people who rely on them every day,” he said.

CDF receives $200K USDA grant for home care cooperative development

home-healthcare-pond5-web f5b24The Cooperative Development Foundation (CDF) this week received a $200,000 USDA Rural Cooperative Development Grant to be used to support the development and expansion of worker-owned home care cooperatives in rural areas.   

The grant provides funds to:

• Conduct research on the quality of care provided by existing home care worker cooperatives

• Develop model pro forma statements for use in evaluating business strategies needed for growth in existing cooperatives

• Reach out to national organizations and groups interested in forming home care cooperatives

• Staff two steering committees of experts to provide guidance on activities related to the grant and worker-owned cooperatives

• Provide technical assistance to cooperatives

In addition to working with start-up cooperatives and outreach with national organizations serving seniors, CDF and its partners will work with three existing home care cooperatives serving rural areas—Cooperative Care in Wautoma, Wisconsin; Circle of Life in Bellingham, Washington; and Paradise Home Care Cooperative in Volcano, Hawaii—to develop strategies to expand and sustain their businesses.

CDF staff, consultants Judy Ziewacz and Julie Ingoglia, and partners University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives, Northwest Cooperative Development Center and Cooperative Development Services will provide resources to fulfill the grant requirements. CDF's Mutual Service Foundation (MSC) Fund and the CHS Foundation provided some of the $70,000 match required by the grant. CDF has received a grant from this USDA program for the past four years. 

CDF's MSC Fund supports cooperative development that aids rural seniors. Since the fund's inception in 2004, it has provided more than $800,000 in grants to support its mission. For additional information about the USDA grant, contact Julie Ingoglia, director of cooperative senior programs, at (202) 638-6222 or jingoglia@cdf.coop. More information about cooperative home care and housing is available at www.seniors.coop.  

The Cooperative Development Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit foundation headquartered in Washington, D.C. promoting community, economic and social development through cooperative enterprises. 

Quebec Summit: Co-ops "key partners" in economic recovery, according to job creation panel

panel-mike-web c6191In recent years, cooperatives have posted the best growth of any market sector, weathering a global economic downturn, innovating to overcome challenges and scaling up job creation and productivity worldwide.

At a discussion moderated by NCBA CLUSA President and CEO Michael Beall last week at the 2014 International Summit of Cooperatives in Quebec City, Canada, panelists addressed the scale of cooperative employment and its proven ability to help people achieve financial independence.

The cooperative movement’s growth and success can be attributed to its commitment to "lend, defend and upend,” Beall said.

"Mutuals, credit unions and SACCOs have continued to lend when banks have pulled back in recession. Co-ops have continued to defend consumers from predatory actors and practices across sectors, and we have upended conventional wisdom about co-ops,” Beall said during the panel discussion. "Sometimes seen as social actors, co-ops are now increasingly relied on as businesses and effective partners in job creation and productivity.”

A new study by the International Organization of Industrial and Service Cooperatives (CICOPA) outlines the impact and scope of the cooperative movement, offering details on cooperative contributions to resilient employment, economic recovery and employee well-being worldwide.

Bruno Roelants, secretary general of CICOPA and a panelist, introduced the results of the organization’s recent 15-month study, "Cooperatives and Employment, a Global Report,” during the discussion.

While based on "incomplete” data that should be considered "estimates, not statistics,” the study indicates that "at least” 250 million people worldwide "work in or within the scope of cooperatives,” making up 12 percent of the entire workforce in the G20 countries, Roelants said. That percentage almost doubles in South Korea and some parts of France and Italy, he said.

"We hope that this study will encourage further research, as well as serious statistical work on co-ops everywhere, and that it also continues to draw the attention of policymakers, civil society and the cooperative movement itself as we recognize the enormous involvement and potential of cooperatives,” Roelants said.

With co-ops increasingly on the radar of decision-makers worldwide, the movement is empowered to tackle persistent challenges to job creation, said Sandra Polasky, deputy director-general for Policy for the International Labour Organization (ILO) and a panelist. The ILO is a United Nations agency that oversees employment issues, particularly international labor standards and decent work for all.

With more than 200 million people still unemployed globally, job creation remains a major concern, Polasky said, particularly in emerging economies, where informal employment—characterized by low pay, job insecurity and lack of benefits—continues to dominate labor markets.

"Looking forward, the global economy will need to create more than 600 million jobs between now and 2030 to accommodate those currently seeking employment and those just entering the labor market,” she said, a number that grows significantly "if we’re able to increase the participation of women and youth in the workforce.”

The labor market is also seeing deterioration in job quality, Polasky added, particularly among jobs open to low- to medium-skilled workers. "In the developing world, nearly one in four workers and their families live on less than $2 a day, constituting ‘working poverty,’” she said. Increases in involuntary part-time work and short-term contracts are further eroding employment quality in the developed world.

As "value-driven, principled enterprises,” co-ops are "key partners” in working toward social justice and full employment, and function as "major building blocks” in a jobs-oriented economic recovery strategy, Polasky said.

Co-ops, she added, are uniquely positioned to support gender equality and career advancement through education and training, as well as examine their supply chains to eliminate abuses such as forced labor and discrimination. Co-ops also play a crucial role in formalizing jobs and small businesses in the informal economy.

"Co-ops are partners in creating quality employment, providing social protections for their member-owners and their communities, giving a voice and representation to those who have often found themselves excluded from democratic decision-making,” Polasky said.

The business model is gaining traction even in economies not historically supported by cooperatives.

Over the next five to ten years, Beall said, an estimated 25 percent of previously government-run businesses in Cuba—ranging from the textile industry to auto repair shops—will outsource jobs to cooperatives. Beall and a team from NCBA CLUSA recently led a research and education trip to Cuba to gain a clearer picture of the cooperative movement there, which observers say is playing an increasingly significant role in the country's push for economic reform. 

"It's an interesting transition for Cuba, and one we can all learn from in the sense that not just traditional co-ops, but every business going forward, can use the cooperative model," he said. "It’s an empowering time!”

At Quebec Summit workshop, NCBA CLUSA leads debate on overcoming challenges to cooperative development

quebec-summit-web 1b469The “Blueprint for a Cooperative Decade” envisions that by 2020, co-ops will be the acknowledged economic leader, the preferred business model and the fastest-growing enterprise worldwide, but gaps in co-op-specific legislation and education remain a concern for cooperative leaders in the U.S.

At a workshop led by NCBA CLUSA on Monday afternoon at the 2014 International Summit of Cooperatives in Quebec City, Canada, attendees discussed ways to clear these hurdles to cooperative development.

One challenge is an inconsistent legislative framework for cooperative development. Currently, approximately half of the states in the U.S. have co-op statutes.

The state of California is currently considering the Limited Liability Worker Cooperative Act—worker co-op legislation that would create a new business entity in the state catering to the needs of worker-owned, democratic businesses—“one of the best worker co-op statutes on the books,” said Esteban Kelly, co-founder and Steering Committee member of the Philadelphia Area Co-op Alliance and NCBA CLUSA Board member. 

The bill is part of a growing movement in the state to create jobs and spur economic growth by supporting small businesses that are democratically owned and operated by their workers.

Nationwide, both incorporation legislation and “enabling legislation” are needed to create a legal environment conducive to cooperative growth, said Jessica Gordon Nembhard, a political economist and associate professor of Community Justice and Social Economic Development in the Africana Studies Department at the John Jay College, of the City University of New York (CUNY). Nembhard is also the author of “Collective Courage: A History of African American Cooperative Economic Thought and Practice.”

Favorable legislation could revolutionize the cooperative movement in the Southern U.S., workshop attendees said, where, in the absence of cooperative statutes, co-ops typically incorporate as non-profits. When such co-ops dissolve, however, assets go to another non-profit, rather than the community, which is crucial to wealth creation, said Cornelius Blanding, director of Field Operations and Special Projects for the Federation of Southern Cooperatives and an NCBA CLUSA Board member.

Southern states are also right-to-work states, Blanding said, which prohibit agreements between labor unions and employers. To the uninitiated, co-ops are often feared as an “entry point” to union activity, he said, further complicating cooperative development.

Kelly said U.S. co-op leaders should take a cue from the recent 2014 UN Climate Summit, during which heads of state from island nations—those most vulnerable to climate change—assumed a leadership role.

“A national solution for co-op law should come through the South,” Kelly said. “If we can figure out Jackson, Mississippi, we will have a solution that will work in Vermont and everywhere else.”

Workshop attendees agreed that a 50-state approach—something NCBA CLUSA President and CEO Mike Beall called “vital”—would ideally come from a coupling of state and federal efforts, with a grassroots approach supplemented by NCBA CLUSA’s advocacy work at the federal level.

Jerry McGeorge, vice president of Cooperative Affairs for Organic Valley and chair of NCBA CLUSA's Board of Directors, called for a comprehensive, state-by-state review of legal realities to determine “core pieces of good co-op statutes” that could be adopted by other states, resulting in “clearer and more consistent statutes” nationwide.

One way to get on the radar of legislators is to “lead with the economic benefit of co-ops,” McGeorge said, adding that job creation and other economic activity can counteract any misconceptions surrounding cooperatives.

Workshop attendees also tackled the need to strengthen cooperative education.

Dan Arnett, general manager at Central Co-op in Seattle, Washington, and board director at SLICE (Strengthening Local Independent Co-ops Everywhere), said his group’s discussion could be culled into three overarching themes: research, leadership and community impact, which would ideally include a national ad campaign for co-ops and TED talks on relevant, even “provocative,” issues.

The gap in accurate, current data and research about co-ops should be filled by an online library or archive, attendees said.

“If we make credible information on co-ops more easily accessible, it’s more likely to be included in academic curricula,” Arnett said.

Pat Sterner, NCBA CLUSA’s COO, underscored the value of “stewardship,” or archiving current, accurate information about co-ops. “It’s critical for us to establish a baseline of what we know and don’t know about cooperatives,” she said.

Another priority, Arnett added, is to support existing programs that have proven impact, such as the University of Wisconsin’s Center for Cooperatives, and get more people “involved and engaged.”

Nick Francesconi, representing co-ops in Italy, said cooperative leaders should emphasize the career aspect of the movement as a growth strategy. Shedding light on concrete employment opportunities would appeal to young people entering the workforce and tap into the social entrepreneurship movement in Europe, he said.

Jobs aren’t the only draw, however, Kelly said. “People will coalesce around uplifting, sustainable and just economic livelihoods if we really make the case that cooperatives serve the community first and foremost. Anyone can offer you a job or dangle a tax break in front of you, but we’re talking about something really different here,” he said.

While this social justice approach can and should help broaden the “face” of cooperatives, Beall said, co-ops must ultimately be seen as legitimate and sustainable—not just socially responsible—businesses. “We need the strategy behind the political efforts, because one of the ways to make co-ops more relevant is to make it easier to actually become a co-op in your respective state.”

Monday’s discussion, along with a similar one held at NCBA CLUSA’s Annual Cooperatives Conference last month in Minneapolis, Minnesota, will “inform NCBA CLUSA’s strategic planning process going forward,” Sterner said.

The conversation is also expected to continue at NCBA CLUSA’s upcoming Cooperative Professionals Conference in November, she added.

The National Cooperative Business Association CLUSA International (NCBA CLUSA) is the trade association for cooperative businesses in the United States and an international development organization. NCBA CLUSA provides cross-sector advocacy, education and technical assistance that helps cooperative businesses thrive. For nearly 100 years, NCBA CLUSA has sought to advance and protect cooperative enterprises, highlighting the impact that cooperatives have in bettering the lives of individuals, families and communities. Since 1953, NCBA CLUSA has worked in over 85 countries in the areas of cooperative development, food security and nutrition, agricultural development, community-based health, natural resources management, and empowerment of smallholder farmers, women and youth. We currently work in 18 countries in Africa, Latin America and Asia.



For nearly 100 years, NCBA CLUSA has encouraged communities to live cooperatively, harnessing the uncommon power of common purpose. NCBA CLUSA applies cooperative principles in development, advocacy, and education.

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  Pat Brownell Sterner, Chief Operating Officer Click Here To Email Pat 202-638-6222   Thomas Bowen,  Director of Membership Click Here to Email Thomas Bowen 202.383.5461                           The National Cooperative Business Association CLUSA (NCBA CLUSA) represents a cross-sector co-op community of more than 40,000 businesses that control over $3 trillion in assets.  We unite co-ops by promoting the cooperative business model, driving cross-sector collaboration, and being the national ‘voice’ for cooperatives to raise the profile of co-ops everywhere. Our work is grounded in our three-part mission:
 To raise the profile of cooperatives
 To promote and protect the cooperative business enterprise model To drive cross-sector collaboration among cooperatives in keeping with Principle 6 of the Cooperative Principles       We believe in collaboration, and in bringing value to the many efforts already underway through our cooperative development partners and intermediaries that are doing the necessary ‘boots on the ground’ cooperative development work. In our role as facilitator, convener, and financing partner, we assist our partners in their work with strengthening the structure, reach and financial sustainability of existing cooperatives, as well as efforts to establish new cooperatives.  We are collaborating with Cooperation Works! and Cooperative Development Centers across the country to develop more diverse – and sustainable – funding for their important work. We are responding to local and regional nationwide that are interested in establishing Cooperative Business Associations, with the intent of creating local cooperative ‘chambers of commerce’ to drive the financial success of cooperatives in these associations, raise the profile of cooperatives in their communities, and foster cross-collaboration among cooperatives. Using the power of cooperative development work and our collective cooperative voice, NCBA CLUSA advocates on Capitol Hill on behalf of cooperatives, fighting to maintain or increase government funding for cooperative programs and securing access to legislation that protects the cooperative business enterprise model. Throughout the United States, NCBA CLUSA is working with cooperatives and cooperative development organizations to embed cooperatives in their local and regional economies. With our partners NCBA CLUSA supports cooperative development, funds cooperative education, and promotes the need for research to continually strengthen the case for cooperatives in our economy.   OUR FOCUS NCBA CLUSA takes very seriously its role as CONVENER of cooperatives and cooperators across the country. ADVOCACY NCBA CLUSA is also working hard to amplify the voice of cooperatives at the national level, specifically through increased advocacy work on behalf of cooperatives sectors.  For example, NCBA CLUSA sent letters to members of the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means Committees pressing for tax reform to retain the tax exemption for credit unions. Likewise, through the efforts of NCBA CLUSA and partners, a significant shift in the government’s fiscal year 2014 spending bill has made provision for $5.8 million for the Rural Cooperative Development Grant (RCDG) and an additional $3 million for the Small Socially-Disadvantaged Producer Grant (SSDPG). Moving forward, we plan to establish a congressional Cooperative Caucus as a forum to brief legislators on cooperatives and cooperative sectors. CO-OP TALKS Another significant focus for NCBA CLUSA is boosting our presence with members through a series of Co-op Talks.  These meetings will be excellent opportunities for us to listen to our members, recruit new members, and learn more about what cooperatives need in communities across America.  Current list of venues include: Denver, Colorado Madison, Wisconsin   CONFERENCES NCBA CLUSA hosts and/or supports several conferences throughout the year: Consumer Cooperative Management Association (CCMA):  June 12-14 in Madison, Wisconsin Co-op Week (in partnership with the National Cooperative Bank and the Cooperative Development Foundation):  May 5-9 in Washington, D.C. Purchasing Cooperative Conference and the NCBA CLUSA Annual Meeting:  September 8 – 11 in St. Paul, Minnesota   COOPERATIVE BUSINESS ASSOCIATIONS (CBA'S) We are working with several groups throughout the country that are organizing to establish CBAs.  To support these efforts NCBA CLUSA is providing financial support, human resources and business planning to launch what can be thought of as local “co-op chambers of commerce”, with missions to promote the co-op business model, grow the bottom-line of cooperatives in local communities, and engage more consumers as co-op members.  We are focused on four locations: Austin, Texas  (Austin Cooperative Business Association) Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Philadelphia Area Cooperative Association) Upstate New York Western Massachusetts (Valley Cooperative Business Association   COOPERATIVE BUSINESS SERVICES We are committed to raising the profile of cooperatives as economic drivers in our communities.  To that end we will be providing services such as internal and external “cooperative assessments” for members interested in (internally) better integrating the cooperative principles into their business plans and operations, and (externally) leveraging cross-sector relationships to promote their businesses to a broader base of consumers.  We will be utilizing the Blueprint for the Cooperative Decade in this work with our members, with a projected outcome of better identifying and communicating the economic power of cooperatives in given communities.   COOPERATIVE BUSINESS ROUNDTABLE In 2014 we will be establishing the Cooperative Business Roundtable, which will be a convening of CEOs from our larger members.  We have recognized the opportunity to bring CEOs together to network with each other about the opportunities and challenges for cooperatives in today’s economy as well as those they face in their own cooperatives.  Plans are being made to launch the inaugural session of the Roundtable during Co-op Week in Washington, D.C. (May 5 – 9, 2014).     OUR PARTNERSHIP WITH CooperationWorks AND THE COOPERATIVE DEVELOPMENT CENTERS CooperationWorks! Is the center for excellence for cooperative business development. They are a dynamic and innovative national cooperative created to grow the cooperative model across the United States. Cooperative development centers work to revitalize communities through effective cooperative enterprise development. The centers provide a broad spectrum of expertise and technical assistance, including feasibility studies, market analysis, business plan development, governance training, and educational programs. NCBA CLUSA works closely with both CooperationWorks! and the centers to provide support and resources to aid in their very critical work. NCBA CLUSA understands that it is imperative to grow and sustain financial support so that CooperationWorks! and the centers may foster cooperative economic development. To that end, NCBA CLUSA is co-hosting with CooperationWorks! a summit to engage the cooperative development centers on a national level that will bring forth strategies that will diversify and grow funding. PARTNERSHIP WITH FREELANCERS UNION NCBA CLUSA first began working Freelancers Union in 2010 while assisting organizations across the United States that were applying for funding to develop the new national health care CO-OPs. NCBA CLUSA first provided expertise to Freelancers Union regarding board governance and board development for the application and later played a role in board training for Freelancers Union. Since that time, a close and productive relationship has grown between the two organizations. Sara Horowitz, Found and Executive Director of Freelancers Union, recently wrote; “Cooperatives are deeply knit in the American fabric. In 1752, founding father (and volunteer firefighter) Ben Franklin started the nation's first mutual fire insurance company, Philadelphia Contributionship, which still operates today. In his book For All The People, historian and woodworker John Curl highlights the amazing diversity of cooperative businesses that popped up in the 1800s -- mining coops, shoemaking coops, knitting coops. Basically anything workers could unite to own, they did. We are beginning to see the rise of that mutualistic ethos once again. Many of these efforts directly mirror the late 1800s mutual support model -- but this time with the internet helping bring what had once been local models to national scale.” Freelancers Union has a mission of promoting the interests of independent workers through advocacy, education, and services. NCBA CLUSA is working with the Freelancers Union to provide certain training, education and support services to assist the Freelancers Union in fulfilling their research of cooperatives, member educational programming, project management, board education, business model transition, and public relations objectives, and services for which cooperation may be mutually beneficial. REGIONAL FARMERS MARKET/USDA RCDG GRANT NCBA CLUSA’s 2012 USDA Rural Cooperative Development Grant is dedicated to supporting the establishment of a Regional Farmer’s Market located in the Mississippi Delta, in partnership and through the leadership of Shreveport Federal Credit Union and the Federation of Southern Cooperatives. The establishment of food hubs that address food deserts is a particular area of expertise for NCBA CLUSA through our international work, and we are applying that expertise to our rural cooperative development partnerships. The work is also supported by previous project work related to wealth creation and development of value chains, especially as relate to cross-sector cooperative business opportunities. The initial work around the establishment of a regional farmers’ market located in Marks, Mississippi has been led by the Shreveport Federal Credit Union, which located a branch in Marks in 2006. Joining with the Federation of Southern Cooperatives, the primary cooperative development expert in the rural south, Shreveport FCU has worked with local community leaders to further explore opportunities for community engagement and is currently building out the concept for the market, setting in motion plans to launch the market by the end of 2013. The idea for the Delta Regional Market (a name under consideration) came about through multiple meetings with community members, mayors of several towns, and farmers in which they addressed the challenges which have caused this region to be so economically deprived. The Market will be a food hub for the entire community providing reasonably priced, fresh, locally-grown foods; creating jobs for some and for others an entertainment and a gathering place that is planned to be a major draw for customers within a 50-mile radius.  On-street parking provides plenty of space for customers, and the building is located near local businesses to encourage foot traffic to nearby merchants. The Market will also be a showcase for the community’s cultural roots. In addition to being a Food Hub with sales of fresh farm products, the Market will also house a small Museum called “The Muletrain Museum and Gift Store”, a Kidz Zone, and a small Food Court. “Sunday Go to Meeting at the Market” will highlight the deep spiritual roots of the people of the Delta, and provide the opportunity for area churches from diverse communities to bring their choirs and congregations to the market to sing in the food court area on Sunday afternoons as an additional way to attract consumers to the Market. Another central feature of the Market will be the participation of the North Delta Produce Growers Association, which will use part of the Market’s building to expand their commercial enterprise which currently sells purple hull peas to Walmart. Expansion of their operations will increase the distribution opportunities for their participating farmers, and open the door for other farmer cooperatives to join. Leadership and partnership must go hand in hand for the success of this project. Shreveport Federal Credit Union is stepping up with some of the financing for the building; the Federation of Southern Cooperatives is providing the hands-on expertise in agricultural as well as small cooperative business development. Thanks to funding from the USDA Rural Cooperative Development Grant, NCBA CLUSA is providing expertise in business planning, project design and financing to support the launch and sustainability of the project. We believe the Delta Regional Market can become an important pilot for other communities to follow, and we will work with our partners to document and evaluate every step of this important project. Links to partners: Shreveport Federal Credit Union Federation of Southern Cooperatives North Delta Produce Growers Association USDA

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Succession Planning for Co-op Members Join us for a Webinar on June 26 Space is limited. Reserve your Webinar seat now at: What will happen to your business when its leadership is ready to retire? During NCBA CLUSA’s June 26 webinar, presenter Gary Pittsford, CFP, president and CEO of Castle Wealth Advisors, will discuss key factors you need to consider in planning for the future of your coop, including: • Issues affecting family members • Transition options • Retirement income security • Tax impacts and options • Business and estate plans Get the answers to your burning questions about the succession planning process and begin to assemble an advisory team who can help you make smart decisions for your organization.   Title: Succession Planning for Co-op Members Date: Thursday, June 26, 2014 Time: 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM EDT   After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.   System Requirements PC-based attendees Required: Windows® 8, 7, Vista, XP or 2003 Server Mac®-based attendees Required: Mac OS® X 10.6 or newer Mobile attendees Required: iPhone®, iPad®, Android™ phone or Android tablet       Future NCBA CLUSA Webinar Topics Promoting Cooperation with Financial Cooperatives Learn how financial cooperatives are engaging in cross-sector collaboration by doing business with other cooperative sectors. Cooperative education in colleges and universitiesWhile the cooperative business model is distinct from other business models, our current options for pursuing relevant cooperative management education is limited. Join this webinar to learn about the existing programs, along with work being done to improve management education for the cooperative sector. Cooperative GovernanceWebinar will explore key issues in cooperative governance, and how cooperative governance is different than governance of other organizational models.   NCBA CLUSA’s webinars continue to be a popular source of information on issues impacting the cooperative community. Whether it is marketing and branding your co-op, understanding the legal and governmental framework of cooperatives or learning how co-ops are using technology to be innovative, NCBA CLUSA’s webinars provide useful and timely information to leverage opportunities for growing and improving your cooperative. Webinar Archive Miss a webinar? Visit NCBA CLUSA's archive to view presentations on-demand We'd Love Your Input! Do you have an idea for a webinar topic? Please send your suggestions to:info@ncba.coop



  Thursday, 01 August 2013 10:38 In a July letter to the Senate Finance Committee, Senator Mark Begich (D-AK) stated he supports credit unions and their tax exemption status. Outside of the Washington beltway, regular folks may not be aware that Congress is working to overhaul the existing tax structure. For the last few years, Congressional tax committees have been considering comprehensive tax reform, and they now plan to draft and pass a bill later in the year. The current process in the Senate is called the “blank slate” approach. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) and Ranking Member Orrin Hatch (R-UT) have asked senators to submit letters advising the committee which tax exemptions they support that should be included in the committee’s approach to comprehensive tax reform. Along with his requests to keep housing and energy tax provisions, Senator Begich also included the credit union tax exemption in his July 26 letter to the Senate Finance Committee. In his letter, Senator Begich stated, “Alaska is far removed from traditional financial centers and that credit unions play an outsized role in the state’s economy. That is why Section 501(c)(14), which grants tax exempt status to credit unions, should be retained in any tax reform effort, to ensure continued access to affordable credit for consumers, homebuyers and small businesses alike, all of which contribute substantially to economic growth.” At the Finance Committee’s request, the letter writing exercise has been kept confidential, but Senator Begich, along with a few other senators have made their requests public. It is not clear how senators are participating in the “blank slate” process, or how the House of Representatives will proceed with their tax reform approach. NCBA CLUSA has coordinated its efforts with the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and the National Association of Federal Credit Unions (NAFCU) to support the credit union tax exemption and will continue to work with its association partners as the tax reform process moves ahead in Congress.  


Call to Action: Tell Your Members of Congress to Support Cooperative Development Funding!

Cooperative Development Centers Need Your Support! During the Congressional appropriations process, vital funding for the USDA Rural Cooperative Development Grant (RCDG) program was impacted dramatically, and the cooperative community needs to do everything we can NOW to restore it to sufficient levels. The House of Representatives Agriculture Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2014 eliminates RCDG funding that is critical to the development of cooperatives in rural America. The Senate provides $8.8 million in their funding bill for the program. Without sufficient funding for the RCDG program, cooperative development centers providing hands-on assistance will be unable to operate, and the only existing program in the federal government dedicated to cooperative development would be hindered significantly or possibly eliminated. As an NCBA CLUSA member and supporter, you have an opportunity to help! Attached are two letters, one specifically drafted for the House of Representatives and the other for the Senate. Please send the appropriate letter of support to your Representative or Senators and let them know this vital program needs to be saved. If you would like to share the success of your advocacy efforts on this issue or have any questions, please contact NCBA CLUSA’s Vice President of Advocacy, R.L. Condra at 202.383.5480 or rcondra@ncba.coop. Sincerely, Michael Beall President and Chief Executive Officer   Download House of Representatives Letter » Find Your Representative Download Senate Letter » Find Your Senator

Call to Action: Tell Your Members of Congress to Support Cooperative Development Funding!

Legislative Update: Cooperative Development Bill Introduced in the House of Representatives

  Legislative Update Cooperative Development Bill Introduced in the House of RepresentativesLegislation Focuses on Job Creation by Promoting Cooperative Development  (WASHINGTON, DC) – The National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA CLUSA) is excited to announce the introduction of legislation that will spur job creation and development of cooperatives. The legislation H.R. 2437 titled, “Creating Jobs Through Cooperatives Act of 2013” was introduced by Congressman Chaka Fattah (D-PA) on June 20 in the House of Representatives. “Co-ops bring communities tighter by encouraging residents to pool their skills and resources,” said Fattah. “They empower people to make decisions that will create opportunities that grow their communities and provide an added sense of belonging. This legislation brings federal resources and a policy priority to that effort.” The legislation would create a national program within the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to provide capital, training and other resources to foster member owned businesses. The bill introduced will strengthen communities, promote self-help, and generate jobs by awarding grants to nonprofit organizations, colleges and universities that help grow or create cooperatives. Also, when establishing cooperatives, communities will be provided with guidance, best practices, and technical assistance. Furthermore, the legislation will create a revolving loan fund, providing seed capital to groups forming cooperatives and funding to train providers in technical issues, supporting existing professional development for organizations engaged in cooperative development. “On behalf of the 29,000 cooperatives throughout the country, we thank Congressman Fattah for his support and leadership,” said Michael Beall, president of NCBA CLUSA. “This legislation is a giant step in providing more communities around the country with the financial backing to grow businesses that share their same values.” Cooperatives already play a significant role in the U.S. economy operating in all 50 states and across all sectors. They are owned and operated by the people who utilize the goods or services provided by the co-op and they operate for the benefit of its members. Cooperatives are a part of many industries including energy, telecommunications, food distribution, insurance, credit unions, agriculture, health, housing, and wholesale and retail purchasing and distribution. There are 29,000 U.S. cooperatives that account for more than $3 trillion in assets, totalling over $500 billion in revenue, $25 billion in wages and benefits, and providing nearly two million jobs. If you would like to receive the text of the bill, or would like to learn how you could have your Member of Congress support the legislation, please contact R.L. Condra, NCBA CLUSA Vice President of Advocacy, at  or 202.383.5480. The National Cooperative Business Association CLUSA International (NCBA CLUSA) is the apex association for cooperative businesses in the United States and an international development organization. NCBA CLUSA provides cross-sector education, support, and advocacy that helps co-ops thrive. For nearly 100 years NCBA CLUSA has sought to advance and protect cooperative enterprises, highlighting the impact that cooperatives in bettering the lives of individuals and families. In the last 60 years, NCBA CLUSA has grown its international development portfolio to over $34 million of active programs in 14 countries.

Legislative Update: Cooperative Development Bill Introduced in the House of Representatives


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NCBA CLUSA is the nation’s oldest and largest national membership association representing cooperatives of all types and in all industries. We are democratically organized and operate according to internationally recognized cooperative principles. NCBA CLUSA’s mission is to develop, advance and protect cooperative businesses and to demonstrate the power of the cooperative business model to achieve economic and social impacts. As the apex organization representing the interests of the US cooperative community, NCBA CLUSA provides a strong, unified voice on Capitol Hill. The Association’s portfolio includes programs and services that meet the shared advocacy, education and communications needs of a cross-sector, US cooperative community. In addition to its work domestically, NCBA CLUSA’s international program has been engaged in cooperative and sustainable business development in over 100 countries for close to 60 years.


NCBA CLUSA is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer with a commitment to diversity.  All individuals, regardless of personal characteristics, are encouraged to apply; all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, political affiliation, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, disability, protected veteran status, genetic information, age, and legally protected characteristics for non-merit factors. NCBA CLUSA is committed to providing reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals with disabilities in all facets of employment, including the employment application and selection process. If you have a disability that affects your ability to use our online system to apply for a position at NCBA CLUSA, please send an email to Misti French or call 202-383-5465.



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The Team

Meet Our Senior Leadership Team

Michael Beall

Michael Beall

President & Chief Executive Officer
Patricia Brownell Sterner

Patricia Brownell Sterner

Chief Operating Officer, NCBA
Amy Coughenour Betancourt

Amy Coughenour Betancourt

Chief Operating Officer, CLUSA International
Valeria Roach

Valeria Roach

Chief Financial Officer
Lisa Bowman

Lisa Bowman

Chief Administrative Officer, NCBA CLUSA
Larry Thomas

Larry Thomas

Chief Human Resources Officer, NCBA CLUSA

The National Cooperative Business Association CLUSA International (NCBA CLUSA) is the oldest and largest national cross sector association for cooperatives, professionals servicing co-ops, and supporters.