Monday, October 31, 2011

Pamphlet: Cooperative Business Solutions for the Northeast U.S.

Cooperative Development Institute, working with Jane Livingston of Indivisible, Inc. and David Gerratt of DG Communications, has produced a beautiful 4-page pamphlet describing the benefits of cooperatives in retail food, workplaces, housing, credit, agriculture, fisheries, and shared utilities, with examples from throughout the Northeast. The pamphlets were printed on 100% post-consumer recycled paper by Boston worker co-op Red Sun Press (pictured on the front!). With the launch of the U.N.-declared International Year of Cooperatives 2012 today, we are making copies of the pamphlet available to the Northeast co-op community. Call for ordering information, 413-665-1271 or toll-free 877 NE COOPS.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

CDI awarded $225,000 grant for rural co-op development

Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Announces Economic Development Funding To Create Jobs in Rural Communities in 26 States

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M., - October 26, 2011 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the selection of 36 organizations in 26 states and the District of Columbia for grants to help rural cooperatives and small businesses expand, create jobs and strengthen their capacity to serve rural citizens and communities.
Vilsack said, "As we celebrate National Cooperative Month, USDA is proud to continue its support of local and regional efforts to bolster these cooperatives and help them bring increased value and economic opportunity to rural residents."

The grants are being provided through USDA Rural Development's Rural Cooperative Development Grant program. Under this program, grants of up to $225,000 may be awarded to colleges, universities and non-profit groups to create and operate centers that help individuals or groups establish, expand or operate rural businesses, especially cooperatives and mutually-owned businesses. Grants may be used to conduct feasibility studies, create and implement business plans, and help businesses develop new markets for their products and services.
Cooperative Development Institute: $225,000 to build a cooperative economy in New England and New York by creating and developing cooperative enterprises and networks in the northeast region of the country.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

"Don't Let 'Em Go! How co-ops can keep vital businesses, services in rural communities"

In the current (Sept/Oct) issue of USDA's Rural Cooperatives magazine, a salute to noteworthy co-ops in celebration of National (and International!) Cooperative Month includes an article by Noemi Giszpenc on converting existing businesses to co-op ownership in rural communities. The article features the Old Creamery Co-op, Crown O'Maine Organic Co-op, Turtle Ridge Cooperative, ROC USA, and Maine Organic Milling, all examples of people cooperating to keep needed institutions and make sure they are serving their communities. See page 30 for the article, and browse the other great stories in this special Co-op Month issue.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Join the Campaign for Cooperation

Exciting news in the co-op world! A bill will be introduced this Fall in the House of Representatives to fund co-op development in underserved communities. This is a wonderful opportunity to grow the cooperative economy, create quality jobs and stable businesses, and build wealth in low-income communities throughout the country – both rural and urban. Join the campaign to support its passage at

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Passion Makes Vision a Reality for Many Communities: 2011 Together on the Land Tour

Northampton, MA– The third annual Together on the Land Tour visited blighted urban properties being rehabilitated by the Holyoke Community Land Trust, a resident owned manufactured housing park in Ware, a successful co-housing development in Northampton, an organic farm in Granby tackling long-term farm affordability and green community-built housing in Amherst.

What do these places have in common? A vision and the passion to make that vision a reality.

The hard work of the pioneers at each tour stop was self evident. In Ware, residents of a manufactured housing park came together to raise $1.1 million to buy their park from their landlord so that profits from rents could be invested in their community, not sent out of state. This vision became a reality because of the passion of their volunteer resident board of directors and the technical assistance of the Cooperative Development Institute. Oakwood has been transformed to the Quabbin Sunrise Cooperative.

That same passion that encourages the residents at Quabbin Sunrise to work for free on behalf of their community was evident at each tour stop. The farmers at Red Fire Farm have built a successful organic vegetable farm in Granby, but want their passion for farming to take root. They are purchasing additional farm land in Montague with the assistance of Mount Grace Land Trust so that they don't have to rely on year-to-year leases on fields in Granby. And permanent farm affordability restrictions will ensure the next farmer has the chance to do the same.

The tour was an opportunity to learn more about the challenges of living communnally, establishing whole farm affordability, creating cooperatives and building homes with volunteer labor and much more. A program from the tour with resources is available online at

Photo Credit: Laura Mason – all photos from 9/11/11 Together on the Land Tour

2011 Tour Co-sponsored by:

Cooperative Development Institute, Co-op Power, Equity Trust,

Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust & Valley Community Land Trust

2011 Media Sponsor: The Valley Advocate

2011 Special Thanks to Collective Copies and River Valley Market for their in-kind donations

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Campaign for Cooperation is On!

Fellow Cooperators,

For nearly a year, cooperative business owners and developers have been working to develop awonderful piece of legislation that will support the growth of cooperative businesses in underserved communities throughout the country. For months, many of you have been hearing about this, but recently we've been particularly quiet. That's because we've been hard at work, behind the scenes, preparing to grow our campaign to fully support the legislation when it is introduced.

I'm happy to announce today that our campaign has a home!

our campaign has a name!
Campaign for Cooperation

and our legislation has a name!
National Cooperative Development Act of 2011

We need your support. We could spend our days calling the offices of al Members of Congress, telling them about this terrific piece of legislation, but it wouldn't be very effective. Members of Congress are not interested in hearing what people outside their districts think they should support. They want to hear from their constituents, which is YOU!

The Campaign for Cooperation will work with you and help you spread the word about the National Cooperative Development Act, and to help you talk to your Representatives about how wonderful co-ops are, and how this legislation will benefit their constituents.

We expect Rep. Fattah to introduce the
National Cooperative Development Act this Fall, and the cooperative community needs to be ready to support it from day 1. We will let you know as soon as the legislation is available. While we wait for its introduction, there are a couple things you can do to help.
- Share with your community of co-op supporters
- Contribute to the campaign at our website (any amount helps!) - this helps us spread the word about the legislation throughout the country.
- Meet with your Member of Congress or their staff to talk to them about your co-ops, and that the
National Cooperative Development Act is coming soon, and you want them to be a co-sponsor.

You can read an interview with Rep. Fattah about the National Cooperative Development Act HERE

Thank you for your continued support!

Peter Frank
Advocacy Coordinator - Campaign for Cooperation

Monday, October 3, 2011

CFNE Position Opening: Maine Loan and Outreach Officer

The Cooperative Fund of New England (CFNE) is a community development loan fund and a U.S. Treasury Certified Financial Development Institution (CDFI) that is a bridge between socially responsible investors and cooperatives, community oriented non-profits, and worker-owned businesses in New England (and parts of New York). CFNE’s administrative office is in Wilmington, NC. The organization has a “virtual” office set up, all workers using home offices.

Position: Maine Loan and Outreach Officer
Part Time (1-2 days a week)
Reports to: Executive Director
Position Description: The Loan and Outreach Officer will be chiefly responsible for coordinating and executing all efforts to represent CFNE in Maine. The individual will be responsible for identifying and attracting borrowers, investors, and funders to CFNE. The person will represent CFNE at events and conferences, visit current borrowers, and cultivate relationships with cooperatives, worker-owned businesses, nonprofits in the market area. The individual will also work with the Executive Director (ED) to shape the direction of the organization and support the ED in organization-wide strategic planning.

Responsibilities include:
  • identifying borrowers and following up on loan inquiries
  • visiting prospective borrowers
  • preparing site visit reports and distributing them to Loan Committee members
  • visiting current borrowers to check on progress and to maintain communications
  • providing technical assistance to or identifying technical assistance needs of current and prospective borrowers
  • meeting with financial partners, banks, loan fund officers to package loans
  • assisting in the development and implementation of a marketing plan to obtain borrowers
  • attending conferences, meetings to represent CFNE
  • speaking to individuals and groups about CFNE
  • attending all Board of Trustee meetings
Outreach at CFNE is a collaborative process, thus an ability to work well as part of team and also as a leader is critical to the success of this position.

Desired Qualifications:
  • College degree and a minimum three to five years lending experience
  • Experience in the community economic development or financial services fields a plus.
  • Commitment to social justice mission and to working as part of a diverse organization
  • Excellent written and verbal communication
  • Excellent organizational, time management and interpersonal skills required
  • Ability to understand, interpret, and communicate organizational budgets and financial statements
  • Ability to work well as part of a team and within a diverse group of people and settings
  • Ability to act and react quickly to urgent, unplanned opportunities or needs
  • Ability to initiate and juggle multiple projects and work independently
  • Regular use of telephone, cell phone and personal computer.
  • Experience with Microsoft Word, Excel and Access, the Internet and associated programs.
For more information about the Cooperative Fund of New England, visit our website:

Please email your resume and salary requirements to Rebecca Dunn at

Fall Issue of Networks, newsletter of Cooperation Works!

The Fall 2011 issue of the Networks newsletter is out -- check out the great work that cooperative developers are doing throughout the U.S.

Happy Co-op Month 2011!

October is National Co-op Month -- an opportunity to celebrate, educate, and communicate about co-ops. Check out the online toolkit. What are you doing this month?

Cooperative Maine is publishing op-eds and releasing an update to its directory, Stronger Together. See for a preview.

The Neighboring Food Co-op Association is encouraging everyone to join their local food co-op and credit union and shop for co-op products.

Northeast CT co-ops are sponsoring a benefit concert to raise development funds for a group of nascent cooperatives in the region.

Cooperative Development Institute has published an article on converting enterprises to co-ops in Rural Cooperatives magazine (see PDF doc, page 30-31), featuring the Old Creamery Co-op, as well as Crown O'Maine Organic Co-op, Turtle Ridge Cooperative, Maine Organic Milling, and the ROC-USA program.

We are also participating in preparations for the launch of the International Year of Cooperatives 2012 at the United Nations in NYC at the end of October. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for co-ops to increase awareness, promote growth, and advocate for appropriate government policies. Start making your plans!