Cooperative Learning Opportunity: Join the Mid America Cooperative Council 2022 Annual Meeting

Cooperatives, like all businesses and organizations, are facing a unique time of change. A 2021 report exploring the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on a segment of cooperatives in Ohio highlighted supply chain challenges, changes in governance, and accelerated adoption of digital technologies as some of the impacts of the pandemic. On April 28th, the Mid America Cooperative Council (MACC), in partnership with the CFAES Center for Cooperatives, will host three nationally recognized speakers who will examine current trends in the cooperative community and “ways to implement small practical disciplines to improve your work life,” as part of MACC’s 2022 Annual Meeting.

Meet the Speakers

The National Council of Farmer Cooperatives (NCFC) works to advance the “interests of America’s cooperatives and other farmer-owned enterprises.” President and CEO Chuck Connor has led the organization since 2009. With members across the United States, Mr. Connor will share current trends in the farmer cooperative landscape from a national perspective. Learn more about NCFC here.

Financial planning is an important part of the way cooperatives plan for their future. Dr. Phil Kenkel will share current trends in cooperative equity management at MACC’s upcoming annual meeting. Dr. Kenkel is Regents Professor of Agricultural Economics at Oklahoma State University and an expert in the cooperative business model, having taught courses in agricultural cooperatives, published scholarly works on cooperative finance, risk analysis, strategic planning, and more, and conducted trainings for producer-owned businesses across the globe. Learn more about Dr. Kenkel and his work here.

As businesses and organizations experience the impacts of the “Great Resignation” and think about and craft post-pandemic workplaces, it seems like changes in the workplace are top of mind across the economy. Dr. Theresa Glomb is a professor in the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota. Her research, which has included field research in dozens of companies and been published in top psychology and management journals, focuses on worker well-being. Dr. Glomb will present, “Let’s Make Work Better: Evidence Based Practices for Improving Your Work Life,” where she will share “ways to implement small, practical disciplines to improve your work life.” Learn more about Dr. Glomb and her work here.

Register for the Learning Opportunity

The MACC Annual Meeting will take place via Zoom on April 28, 2022 from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. Eastern. There is no cost to participate, and non-members of MACC are welcome to engage in the learning opportunity. The 2022 MACC Annual Business Meeting will begin at approximately 11:30 a.m. Eastern; only MACC members are eligible to vote during the annual meeting.

Register at go.osu.edu/maccmeeting.

 

What is the Mid America Cooperative Council?

The College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences Center for Cooperatives at Ohio State provides management services to the Mid America Cooperative Council, a non-profit association of cooperatives, co-op support organizations, and individuals supportive of MACC’s mission to promote, foster, and enhance the values of cooperatives! Learn more at macc.coop.

Building a Community Economy: Exploring Worker Co-ops as a Succession Strategy

Four workers "bump fists" over an office table with various notebooks, tablets, calculators, and other items.Generational changes are often a topic in popular culture. Think about the many popular press articles about changes in home buying, workplace culture, and more. Another important generational change is happening in the small business world. Baby boomers are estimated to own almost half of privately held businesses in the United States.[1] An article from the U.S. Small Business Administration cites that about 70% of privately owned businesses are expected to change ownership in the next 10-15 years, a change that “will represent the largest intergenerational transfer of wealth in U.S. history.”[2] In Ohio, 54% of private businesses, an estimated 94,000 firms employing approximately 2.6 million people, are owned by baby boomers[3], generally defined as those born between 1946 and 1964 who are currently reaching retirement age[4].

Business Succession Strategies and Worker Co-ops

As small business owners plan for retirement or other transition scenarios, they might consider passing the business to a family member, selling to a co-owner or key employee, selling to an outside buyer, or other options.[5] The cooperative model may be able to play a role in these transitions. Worker cooperatives are businesses where worker-members own most of the equity and control the voting shares of the business, while participating in profit sharing, oversight, and sometimes, management, using democratic practices.[6]

A 2021 report authored by experts at the Ohio Employee Ownership Center at Kent State University discussed the potential for worker cooperatives and other employee-owned structures to be viable options for business transitions while helping to retain jobs, build worker wealth, and reduce economic inequality.[7] Watch a recording of a webinar hosted by the CFAES Center for Cooperatives with report co-author Michael Palmieri about the research on the potential benefits of employee ownership.

Worker Co-ops Across the Country and in Ohio

In a 2022 report, the Democracy at Work Institute estimated that there are 612 worker cooperatives or similar democratic workplaces employing just under 6,000 workers across the United States. Ohio has an estimated 20 worker co-op firms, ranking it 9th among U.S. states and territories. These businesses tend to be small, with a median firm size of six workers. Approximately 12% of these businesses originated as ownership transitions.[8]

What Makes A Business a Good Candidate for Potential Transition to a Worker Cooperative?

After studying 12 cases of existing businesses converting to worker cooperatives, authors Alison Lingane and Shannon Rieger[9] identified common motivators for business conversions to worker co-ops. Succession for an exiting owner was one motivator, in addition to goals of building wealth for employees, supporting the business’ mission, and as a way to tap into the strengths of employee-owned models. Based on real-world cases, Lingane and Rieger developed a set of business “readiness factors” for conversion to worker-ownership, including:

  • A commitment to the worker co-op model by the transitioning owner and employees
  • The business being in a strong and sustainable financial position
  • A culture of participation and transparency within the business
  • A program or emphasis on training, advising, and support for both employees and transitioning owners
  • Financing strategies that create a viable path for the conversion
  • Engagement by the transitioning owner throughout the conversion process
  • Phasing the conversion process in stages to lower risk and decrease the cost of capital
  • Securing a third-party financial valuation for the business before agreeing on a price

Some of these factors were identified as “prerequisites” to worker cooperative conversions, while others were identified as important for developing during the conversation process or even simply as helpful for the success of the conversion.

Learn More at Upcoming Free Webinar on March 30

Join the CFAES Center for Cooperatives and guest speaker, Ellen Vera, Director of Development and Co-op Organizing for Co-op Cincy, for a free online webinar on Wednesday, March 30, 2022 from 3-4 p.m. Eastern to learn more about worker and community owned cooperative models, including learning from Co-op Cincy’s decade of experience organizing worker co-ops, including a recent focus on conversions from existing businesses to worker co-ops.

Register by visiting: go.osu.edu/BCE

 

This event will be presented with automated closed captions. If you wish to request traditional CART services or other accommodations, please contact Hannah Scott at scott.1220@osu.edu or 740-289-2071. Requests made by March 20, 2022 will generally allow us to provide seamless access, but the university will make every effort to meet requests made after this date.

 

References

[1] Palmieri, M. & Cooper, C. (2021). Building Legacies: Retaining Jobs and Creating Wealth Through Worker Ownership. Ohio Employee Ownership Center at Kent State University. Retrieved from https://www.oeockent.org/the-ohio-worker-ownership-network

[2] Giltner, E. (n.d.). Business Succession Planning. U.S. Small Business Administration. Retrieved from https://www.sba.gov/content/business-succession-planning

[3] Palmieri, M. & Cooper, C. (2021).

[4] “Baby Boomer,” (2021). Investopedia. Retrieved from https://www.investopedia.com/terms/b/baby_boomer.asp

[5] Newcomer-Dyer, R. (2019). “Business Succession Planning: 5 Ways to Transfer Ownership Of Your Business.” Fit Small Business. Retrieved from https://fitsmallbusiness.com/business-succession-planning/

[6] Hoover, M. & Abell, H. (2016) “The Cooperative Growth Ecosysem: Inclusive Economic Development in Action.” Project Equity & Democracy at Work Institute. Retrieved from https://institute.coop/resources/cooperative-growth-ecosystem-inclusive-economic-development-action

[7] Palmieri, M. & Cooper, C. (2021).

[8] “2021 State of the Sector: Worker Cooperatives in the U.S.” (2022). Democracy at Work Institute. Retrieved from https://institute.coop/resources/2021-worker-cooperative-state-sector-report.

[9] Lingane, A. & Rieger, S. (2015). “Case Studies: Business Conversions to Worker Cooperatives: Insights and Readiness Factors for Owners and Employees.” Project Equity. Retrieved from https://www.project-equity.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/Case-Studies_Business-Conversions-to-Worker-Cooperatives_ProjectEquity.pdf

The CFAES Center for Cooperatives at Ohio State is Hiring a Cooperative Development Program Specialist!  

The College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) Center for Cooperatives seeks a collaborative, organized, and goal-oriented individual to serve as a cooperative development specialist and to contribute to the applied research, teaching, and Extension functions of the Center.

 

Learn more about the position and apply online!

For questions, please contact Hannah Scott at scott.1220@osu.edu or Beth Rigsby at rigsby.22@osu.edu.

 

The Ohio State University is an equal opportunity employer.

CFAES Center for Cooperatives session at WV Small Farm Conference

The CFAES Center for Cooperatives staff will be leading a session on Friday, February 25 during the 18th annual West Virginia Small Farm Conference being hosted online by the West Virginia University Extension Service. The FREE virtual conference is being held February 21-26. The WVU Extension Service Small Farm Center felt strongly that the event should be free this year due to the economic situations that individuals may be facing due to the continued pandemic.

The Center for Cooperatives session, Cooperative Solutions for Farmers and Rural Communities, will be at 11 a.m. Friday, February 25 and focus on how farmers and communities can come together to develop solutions using the cooperative business model to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs. “Participants in our session will learn about ways cooperatives can benefit rural communities and see actual examples of cooperation in rural communities,” said Joy Bauman, Cooperative Program Specialist.

Through the conference, WVU Extension aims to support West Virginia’s 23,000 small farm families and and further develop West Virginia’s food system and local communities by encouraging local production, processing, wholesale and retail marketing, and consumption. Conference participants will have opportunities to engage in a wide variety of session topics throughout the weeklong conference, ranging from meat and specialty crop production and marketing, to high tunnels, agritourism, forest farming, and more. Check out the full conference schedule to find what you are interested in.

Anyone can register for the WV Small Farm Conference via the Extension Service Online Learning System. Log in to the system and enroll in the 2022 West Virginia Small Farm Conference. Then register for the conference.

To learn more about how to register, watch this video recording on YouTube.

Trends in Social Media Marketing Workshop

Date: February 23, 2022
Time: 9:00 AM- 12:00 PM EST
Cost: Free!
Location: Zoom (Link provided after registration)
Registration: go.osu.edu/socialmediatrends
Deadline to register is February 22, 2022

Join us on February 23rd as we collaborate with our Business Development Network partners at the Ohio State University South Centers to learn more about utilizing social media marketing to drive customers to your small business!

This event will feature information that cooperatives and any type of small business can utilize. This 3-hour program will cover topics including live sales, YouTube videos, legal issues, and more.

While this program is free, registration is required. Deadline to register is February 22, 2022. If you have any questions, please contact Anna Adams at adams.2061@osu.edu.

This event will be presented with automated closed captions. If you wish to request traditional CART services or other accommodations, please contact Hannah Scott at scott.1220@osu.edu or 740-289-2071. Requests made by February 21, 2022 will generally allow us to provide seamless access, but the university will make every effort to meet requests made after this date.

Effect of Social Media Marketing on Global Economy

Small Biz Start Up Workshop

By Joy Bauman

Program Specialist

Melissa Carter and Hannah Scott co-teach a Small Business Start Up workshop in Chillicothe.

Our CFAES Center for Cooperatives Program Manager Hannah Scott, JD, was recently a guest presenter with Melissa Carter, Business Development Specialist for the Business Development Network at the OSU South Centers for a small business start up workshop at the Chillicothe Ross Chamber of Commerce in Chillicothe, OH. The two-hour session ai med to help prospective entrepreneurs better understand business ownership to help them determine if it is right for them.

 

Session topics that were touched on ranged from business feasibility, financing, developing a team of trusted advisors, marketing, and legal considerations. Carter discussed loans and other sources of capital for businesses, advising that “you usually can’t find a grant to start your business.” She explained that government grants funded by tax dollars have strict qualifications and require very stringent compliance and reporting measures.

 

Aspiring entrepreneurs were encouraged to get their business plans out of their heads and put their plans on paper. In addition to providing an organized system for researching your business venture, it provides a road map for you to follow and drastically increases your chances of success. Carter explained the parts of a business plan and how the business development specialists at the OSU South Centers can assist anyone wishing to start a business.

 

Scott discussed legal business formation and the differences between sole proprietorships, general partnerships, corporations, cooperatives, non-profits, and limited liability companies, along with the pros and cons of each business type. She advised attendees to get a tax identification number directly from the IRS online, because it is fast and free; pointing out there are numerous scams to have would-be business owners needlessly pay to file for a tax identification number or file their business with the Secretary of State. If you need help with filing, our business development specialists can assist you.

 

Hannah Scott talking at small business workshop

Center for Cooperatives Program Manager, Hannah Scott, JD, was a speaker for the December Small Business Start Up Workshop.

Scott pointed out differences between employees and independent contractors, noting, “This is not something the employer chooses, it is based on the circumstances of the working relationship.” She went on to explain the tax consequences of each.

 

While record-keeping is probably not any business owner’s favorite part of business ownership, it is an important responsibility. Detailed tracking of customers, sales, and inventory are necessary for tax prep and future planning. In addition to keeping records of business expenses, payroll, inventory, sales, income, travel, credit card sales, permits, licenses, insurance, and tax paperwork, it is also vital to keep a record of key agreements such as leases, job descriptions and duties, employment contracts, purchase orders, etc.

 

Aside from the necessary record-keeping and taxes, Carter and Scott also discussed promotions and advertising, helping participants to think about brand recognition and online presence for their businesses, including websites, online sales, and marketing through social media. Scott emphasized legal considerations with branding and marketing, such as trademarks/service marks, and copyrights, and knowing who owns the materials created by a professional graphic designer or web developer.

 

“Generally, employees who create materials in the scope of their employment do not own those materials. The employer owns them,” Scott said.  “Also, generally, an independent contractor owns the materials they create, unless there is an agreement otherwise.”

 

After asking if the would-be entrepreneurs thought they were ready after learning about the many things to consider when starting a business, Scott identified several sources of professional help for business owners, and Carter explained next steps prior to opening a business, including determining the feasibility of the business, building an advisory team, developing a business plan, securing capital and start-up funds. Fortunately, the Business Development Team at the OSU South Centers in Piketon is available to help guide those considering starting their own business, along with the Center for Cooperatives for any groups interested in exploring starting a cooperative business.

 

Also, watch our calendar of upcoming events for more Small Business Start Up sessions in the future!

 

 

 

Resilience, Cooperatives, and COVID-19

Seedling sprouting in the palm of a person's hand.

 

As 2021 ends, I’ve been thinking about the word “resilience.” Resilience is the “ability to become strong, healthy, or successful again after something bad happens,” according to Merriam-Webster. After 20-months of unprecedented shifts in our society, economy, and daily lives brought about by the pandemic, as well as social grappling with institutional and structural racism, concerns about climate change, and more, perhaps we are all thinking about resilience now more than ever.

Cooperative businesses are built around the globally-recognized principles of concern for community, cooperation among cooperatives, and democratic member control, based on values of self-help and solidarity, among others. As the COVID-19 pandemic impacted cooperative members, communities, and businesses, cooperatives have responded in unique ways that highlight the spirit of cooperation and the resilience of the cooperative community.

Globally, cooperatives have responded to the pandemic by adapting in their businesses and by supporting their members and communities with examples including enhancing home delivery of food, grants for cooperatives to purchase agricultural products, and donations of medical products. In the U.S., cooperatives set up community internet hot spots for their members learning and working from home without stable internet access. Really, the examples are too many to capture in one place.

Like many businesses, cooperatives have also faced challenges from the pandemic. The World Cooperative Monitor’s 2020 report, “Exploring the Cooperative Economy” highlighted that some cooperatives saw major declines in revenues, faced cash flow issues, and had to implement temporary unemployment measures – with impacts varying widely by sector. A recent analysis by researchers at Cleveland State University, in collaboration with the CFAES Center for Cooperatives at The Ohio State University, explored how food, agriculture, and rural electric cooperatives in Ohio were impacted by the pandemic. Interviews with cooperative leaders illuminated both positive and negative impacts from COVID-19. Some co-ops saw accelerated implementation of digital technologies. Others experienced serious negative impacts from supply chain disruptions, with one leader sharing that uncertainty has made it “impossible to make decisions on expanding or improving operations.” Importantly, the analysis showed that rural electric, food, and agriculture cooperatives in Ohio employed roughly the same number of people in 2021 as they did pre-pandemic and did not have to lay off workers during the pandemic. Read the full report, “Cooperatives and Ohio’s Economy: Their Contribution and the Impact of Covid-19” here.

Join the CFAES Center for Cooperatives on December 15, 2021 at 1:00pm Eastern for a free webinar discussing the economic contribution of Ohio’s food, agriculture, and rural electric cooperatives and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on this cooperative community. Register for the webinar here.

Across the United States, the pandemic was particularly challenging for the restaurant and food service industry. In Los Angeles, a growing community of worker-owned cooperative restaurant and food businesses is building workplace democracy and spaces for community building post-pandemic. As communities consider how to build more resilient businesses in the wake of the pandemic, worker-owned cooperatives and other employee-owned business models may be uniquely positioned to address income and wealth inequality as well as a looming business succession challenges. In Ohio, an estimated 54% of businesses, representing $118 billion in payroll and $690 billion in sales, are owned by baby boomers who are at or nearing retirement age. A recent report, Building Legacies: Retaining Jobs and Creating Wealth Through Worker Ownership, released by the Ohio Worker Ownership Network highlights the potential impact of worker owned enterprises to build wealth, provide stable employment, reduce economic inequality, and provide a viable path for business continuity.

Creating Appalachia Cooperates Initiative’s Online Home!

Developing the cooperative economy in Central Appalachia is no easy task, but the CFAES Center for Cooperatives at Ohio State is working toward that goal with the Appalachia Cooperates Initiative. Shifting to virtual programming throughout the pandemic, the Center has been able to reach more cooperators across the Appalachian Region.

The Appalachia Cooperates Initiative (ACI) is an education and peer-learning network for community, business, and economic development practitioners interested in the cooperative model.

“Whether the model is used in food and agriculture, housing, workplace ownership, or other areas, cooperatives can help community members solve problems and build wealth locally,” said Hannah Scott, Program Manager for the CFAES Center for Cooperatives.

ACI programs develop awareness of the cooperative business model and share resources to help communities recognize and act on cooperative opportunities. Programs have featured guest speakers from Ohio’s Electric Cooperatives, a co-founder of a community-owned broadband cooperative, cooperative attorneys, and more.

Under the ACI, the center is also working to develop connections and relationships among cooperative practitioners. “Our ultimate goal is to facilitate joint cooperative development activities in Central Appalachia, allowing practitioners to better utilize existing resources,” Scott said. Creating community-based employment and supporting workplace democracy are some of the areas of focus for ACI.

Recently the Center developed an online page devoted to hosting recordings of ACI learning sessions. Cooperative Development Specialist Ryan Kline stated, “this new webpage is a great place for those looking to make change in the region through cooperation! From topics like the history of Appalachian cooperation to changemakers in rural broadband, our recordings can be instrumental for economic, community and cooperative developers to learn more about co-op development in the region.”

More information about the ACI and past program recordings are available  at go.osu.edu/appalachiacooperates .

 

 

Co-op Month Podcast Playlist

Headphones October is National Co-op Month in the United States! The annual celebration is an opportunity to lift up the values and impact of the cooperative community. To celebrate this year, our team at the CFAES Center for Cooperatives is sharing resources for learning about the co-op model. This focus is fitting given that Co-op Principle 5: Education, Training and Information highlights the importance of life-long learning across the global co-op community.

The cooperative community’s diversity and innovation create seemingly endless opportunities to learn about how member-owned enterprises are solving problems and “building back better” in their communities.

Whether you’re new to cooperatives or a seasoned co-op developer, you’ll find unique stories about the cooperative business model in the co-op podcast playlist below!

See us at the Small Farm Center Tuesday at the Farm Science Review

September 21 at 10:30 a.m. in the Small Farms Center at the Ohio Farm Science Review. The Small Farms Center is located at the west end of Equipment Avenue.

We will be sharing info about the Youth Cooperative Leadership Experience Online. This is a resource featuring innovative and exciting ag co-op career content that teachers can easily build into classroom learning during the 2021 school year and beyond. The open-access format also allows students to visit the website outside of class to learn from leaders in the agricultural industry.

With funding from the Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation, The Hocking County Farm Bureau and Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) Center for Cooperatives partnered to create this online experience for high school students to discover and explore careers in agricultural cooperatives.

The virtual program is free and available to all educators and students, but was designed to speak the unique challenges students face in rural Appalachian counties.

If you are at the FSR on Tuesday morning, be sure to stop by to learn about the Youth Cooperative Leadership Experience Online and how it can be a first-step for your school ag program to explore forming a student-led cooperative.

For more information about the Farm Science Review, visit: https://fsr.osu.edu/home