As our name implies, the work of CDS involves “developing cooperatives.” So it’s likely no surprise that our clients are existing cooperatives that seek to expand, diversify, or improve in some aspect of their operations or governance. We also help groups that want to form new cooperatives. In fiscal year 2016, CDS provided organizational or business development assistance 102 existing co-ops and 27 start-up groups. It was a busy year!
Cooperative Training Assistance Program: the City of Minneapolis will be sponsoring a training program for start-up co-ops intending to operate in the city. The class meets one night a week for eight weeks, starting in April or May.
Senior Cooperative Housing Conference Co-op Living: Moving into the Future DoubleTree Bloomington—Minneapolis South, Minneapolis, Minn. May 1–2, 2017 Hosted by Cooperative Network and the Senior Cooperative Foundation
The USDA Rural Development Agency offers Value Added Producer Grants (VAPG) to qualified agricultural producers on a competitive basis. The grants support ag producers who capture and retain added-value for their products, for example, raising livestock and processing the meat, or growing apples and making cider. The purpose of the VAPG is to stimulate ag producer-owned business to create jobs and enhance rural economies.
Pastures A Plenty in Kerkhoven, Minnesota has been a family-owned farm since 1952 when they started growing soybeans and other grains. As part of the family farm’s second-generation, Jim VanDerPol began raising pastured hogs in 1977. By the 1990s Pastures A Plenty was primarily a livestock operation, and in addition to hogs they had added chickens and cattle.
Small And Strong 2016 conference, November 12, 2016, for small food co-ops and start-ups, with registration starting at 8:15 a.m. at Normandale Community College in Bloomington MN. The conference will again include tracks for boards and staff of existing co-ops (with sales under $3 million), and a special track for start-ups offered by Food Co-op Initiative.
Our budget for 2017 includes a goal of at least $50,000 from individuals and co-ops. Thanks to Mississippi Market, we made a huge leap forward in October with their Positive Change program contribution of $9,763.84 to support work with local, organic and sustainable farmers.
Small food co-ops sometimes struggle with isolation as well as gaining adequate sales and resources to develop local leadership. That was the case for Whole Earth Grocery Co-op in River Falls, WI before board member Madeline Kuizek and staff member Anna Zalusky reached out to CDS and others for governance and operational support.
It might seem early for a “year in review”, but our fiscal
year ended on August 31, so we’re both looking back at what we’ve accomplished
AND looking forward to opportunities for increased impact in the year ahead.
At our November 15 Annual Meeting in Stevens Point WI, the
CDS board will receive both an “Ends Report” from me, describing the results we
have had this past year, and an independent auditor’s review of our finances.
Both will be used in the Annual Report to be completed and posted to our
website in January.
Promoting a national vision for cross-sector cooperation,
while holding tight to a grassroots emphasis on co-op development, is quite a
balancing act. Dennis Johnson, a 2016
inductee into the Cooperative Hall of Fame, has built his career on creating
alliances that allow cooperative solutions to take root and thrive.
"With CDS' help, we were able to channel $1.5M of social investment to young organic farmers in our region. Most importantly, these services were provided to us at a price we could actually afford as a start-up."
- Robert Karp, President, New Spirit Ventures, LLC
CDS is a nonprofit organization created and governed by the cooperative community of the Upper Midwest.
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