by Dec 28, 2011on
The US Federal Government put the spotlight on cooperatives this week. Congressman Chaka Fattah (D-PA), Congressional leader for the national cooperative movement, introduced the National Cooperative Development Act.
Cooperatives are owned and operated by the people who use the co-op’s services or buy its goods in an effort to provide mutual benefit to everyone involved. They range greatly in size and cover a wide spectrum of sectors, including farms and markets.
“We have food deserts in low-income urban areas where food cooperatives are often the only enterprises willing to bring food security and nutrition to the community while anchoring the buy-local campaigns we see happening everywhere,” Fattah said. “Every new or expanded cooperative, regardless of the goods or services it provides, will be a job creator and an economic engine where it’s most needed.”
Although the cooperative business model faces many unique challenges, the new legislature addresses some of these problems.
The National Cooperative Development Center will:
- Award grants to nonprofit organizations, colleges, and universities so that they can provide technical assistance to operating cooperatives or groups that are attempting to form cooperatives;
- Provide guidance, information on best practices and technical assistance to communities seeking to establish cooperatives;
- Create a revolving loan fund to provide loans and seed capital to groups who are attempting to form cooperatives;
- Provide funding for training of providers of technical assistance and supporting existing professional development training for organizations engaged in cooperative development;
- Establish cooperative development centers in areas that currently do not have them.