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N.C. co-ops meet to build more cooperative economy
RALEIGH, N.C. (3/12/12)--About 60 cooperative leaders in the Southeast from food, housing and electric co-ops--as well as credit unions--attended a meeting Monday in Raleigh to discuss how cooperatives can capitalize on consumer trends toward using more local businesses and build a more cooperative economy, said the North Carolina Credit Union League.



He said the ICA is making three main points in communicating the strengths of cooperatives during the IYC:

  • Cooperatives are a serious business model;
  • Cooperatives are values-based entities built on the concept of mutual self-help; and
  • Members control the cooperative and have an equal voice.
IYC should only be the start of a larger conversation, and later this year, ICA will roll out a blueprint for a cooperative decade, Gould added.

"By 2020, it's our goal that cooperatives be the fastest-growing business model in terms of impact," he said. He also noted that if, at the end of the year, cooperatives had only marked the year through celebrations and had not raised awareness among consumers and built a blueprint for the future, that the IYC will not have been a success.

The group also strategized ways to build bridges to engage, leverage and grow the existing cooperative economy.

"Simply sitting down and talking about the challenges we face as cooperatives in America is enlightening," said Michael Spink, innovation strategist at Local Government FCU in Raleigh. "We each face many of the same issues: communication with members needs improvement. People don't understand cooperatives. Local leaders need to know about us. How can we collaborate and share resources? It all points to the collaboration piece. We can learn a lot from one another."

Cooperatives could benefit from uniting behind a clear, compelling message, Spink noted.

"Awareness, understanding and involvement are things we all need and things we can all have," Spink said. "We need to get up and take a look at the other guy. Take a look and have a visit with people that are similar. Discover ideas, discover solutions, discover something new. Then you have to work. Take some action and get out there."

To see a video of the meeting, click on the embedded link.
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