Polis resolution commends co-ops as key to sustainable economic growth

Written by Elizabeth Lechleitner/NCBA CLUSA

There are 86 co-ops in Rep. Polis’ district—Colorado’s 2nd—ranging from solar power technology to preschool. [photo courtesy AP]There are 86 co-ops in Rep. Polis’ district—Colorado’s 2nd—ranging from solar power technology to preschool. [photo courtesy AP]There are 86 co-ops in Rep. Polis’ district—Colorado’s 2nd—ranging from solar power technology to preschool. [photo courtesy AP]A resolution commending cooperatives as integral to sustainable economic growth is the latest effort by members of NCBA CLUSA’s Congressional Cooperative Business Caucus to spotlight the scope, impact and potential of the cooperative business model before lawmakers.

Introduced by Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) during National Co-op Month and co-sponsored by Reps. Mark Pocan (D-WI), Chellie Pingree (D-ME) and Paul Gosar (R-AZ), H.Res. 561 amplifies the cooperative business model as a means of addressing income inequality and inefficiency.

“Our democracy can only thrive when hard-working Americans thrive. Co-ops—including employee-owned businesses and customer-owned businesses—are one way we can ensure more people have a fair shot at the American Dream while increasing their overall productivity,” Polis said in a press release announcing the resolution.

As a member of the Congressional Cooperative Business Caucus, Polis is among leading voices in Congress who favor strengthening employee-ownership. He advocates for making the tax code fairer for worker cooperatives and employee stock ownership plans.

During an appearance on the Sirius XM show POTUS Politics ahead of the resolution (full audio below), Polis explained why some versions of expected tax reform could jeopardize the ability of co-ops to compete in the economy, and why the current tax treatment should be preserved.

“We want to make sure that co-ops are front and center, that they’re not subject to additional taxation and that they’re incentivized as a business model that really works in terms of making the economy work for and empower everybody, not just a few,” Polis said.

“Whether it’s an agricultural co-op, your credit union or a small employee-owned company, I am proud to celebrate the co-op movement,” he added.

There are approximately 86 cooperatives in Polis’ district—Colorado’s 2nd—covering a wide swath of industries including solar power technology, financial services, preschools, groceries, housing and bicycle sales and repair.

NCBA CLUSA is proud to partner with Polis and other members of the Congressional Cooperative Business Caucus to better highlight the social and economic contributions of co-ops.

Nationwide, there are now some 40,000 co-ops with $3 trillion worth of assets. They provide more than $25 billion in wages, account for nearly $654 billion in revenue, employ 2 million people and count more than 350 million memberships.

Judy Ziewacz, president and CEO of NCBA CLUSA, said this month’s resolution commending co-ops will serve as a tool to better support collective prosperity and influence policy issues. Part of the resolution calls on lawmakers to be mindful in crafting legislation to ensure it doesn't adversely affect the co-op business model's competitive position. 

“This is an excellent reminder to put co-ops at the forefront of legislative minds to increase cooperative business growth opportunities or when drafting laws that may affect these inclusive businesses,” Ziewacz said.