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

 

 

Exploring Cooperative Leadership

Cooperatives, as member-owned and controlled enterprises, are led by a board of directors who are integral to the operation’s success. If you’re considering joining your co-op’s board of directors – or even if you have served as a director for many years – it is important to recognize the responsibilities inherent in board leadership.

Basic Responsibilities of Co-op Directors

A cooperative board of directors is generally responsible for the affairs of the co-op. For example, under Ohio’s cooperative business statute, “all of the authority of an association shall be exercised by or under the direction of the board.” In a cooperative, the board is generally elected from and by the membership, meaning that directors are also co-op members although some cooperatives may have non-member directors.

A specialist from the U.S. Department of Agriculture conceptualized the responsibilities of cooperative directors as “seven circles,” including:

  1. Representing members, including understanding members’ needs and assessing whether the cooperative is meeting those needs.
  2. Establishing policies that guide the operation of the co-op, including both long-range and specific policies.
  3. Hiring and supervising management, often with direct involvement in hiring and supervising top management such as a general manager or chief executive officer.
  4. Acquiring and preserving assets, including establishing policies relating to assets such as oversight and accounting systems as well as monitoring financial performance.
  5. Preserving cooperative character by ensuring the fundamental character of the enterprise follows co-op principles.
  6. Assessing the cooperative’s performance, including financial performance, but also performance related to fundamental objectives like member benefit.
  7. Informing members with a recognition that members are the owners of the cooperative and accurate and complete information helps ensure they make informed decisions.

As directors carry out these important functions, or delegate responsibility to the co-op’s officers and managers, they are expected to uphold basic legal standards because they are considered fiduciaries who have legal duties to the cooperative, the co-op’s members, and the co-op’s other directors. While the concept of fiduciary duties is broad, at the most basic these duties generally require that directors act in good faith, with the care that an ordinarily prudent person in a like position would exercise under similar circumstances, and in a manner they reasonably believe is in the best interests of the co-op. As two co-op attorneys summarized, these duties require that directors:

  • show up,
  • be prepared,
  • protect the board’s process,
  • disclose conflicts,
  • don’t compete with the cooperative, and
  • don’t breach confidentiality.

Exploring Board Leadership Opportunities  

If you are contemplating joining a co-op board, whether through the encouragement of a neighbor, an invitation from a colleague, or after exploring ways to give back to your community, you likely have multiple questions.

As we learned above, directors play a vital role in leading their cooperatives, taking on various legal duties and other responsibilities. As you explore the opportunity to serve on a co-op board, it is important to consider whether you can effectively uphold these duties and responsibilities.

The following questions, based on recommendations for individuals considering corporate board leadership from the American Bar Association’s Corporate Director’s Guidebook, may help as you think about the opportunity.

  • Do I have sufficient time to diligently perform the duties required of a director? For example, do I have scheduling conflicts with the board’s regular meeting schedule? Do I have sufficient scheduling flexibility to respond to unexpected needs?
  • Do I have skills and experiences that allow me to meaningfully participate as a board member?  Are there special skills I should develop to participate in board activities more fully?
  • Do I have a sufficient understanding of the cooperative’s business to be effective as a director? How can I further develop this understanding?
  • Do I have confidence in the cooperative’s current senior management and directors?
  • Do I have a compelling interest in engaging in board leadership?

The Importance of Co-op Principle 5: Education and Training in Co-op Governance

Co-op members exploring future board leadership, and directors who have led their board for many years, can benefit from ongoing education and skill-building. In fact, as cooperative directors face increasing public and legal scrutiny, there is an increasing awareness of the important role of ongoing education and training for directors. Two legal scholars explained, “Directors are now expected to have more than a passing understanding of financial statements, their fiduciary responsibilities to the cooperative, and other essential items.”[1]

Whether you prefer to learn through reading, in-person teaching, or connecting with peers, there are many resources for co-op members and directors to build their governance knowledge and skills. You can ask your co-op leadership what type of training programs they provide for directors, whether they are members of organizations that provide cooperative education, or whether they partner with co-op educators. You can also explore publicly available resources on your own. Below are a few great places to start!

Join the CFAES Center for Cooperatives and Mid America Cooperative Council for the online training, “Welcome to the Board” on Thursday, September 30 from 10a-12p Eastern time. The interactive training will introduce participants to the roles and responsibilities of cooperative directors and the crucial skills directors use in leading cooperatives. Registration for the training is available at https://go.osu.edu/maccwelcometotheboard.

Explore Co-op Mastery: Beyond Cooperatives 101 online at your own pace. The self-directed platform helps learners explore cooperative governance, taxation, finances, and more using videos, narrated presentations, infographics and more! Explore the platform at https://go.osu.edu/coopmastery

Read Navigating Your Legal Duties: A Guide for Agricultural Cooperative Directors from the National Agricultural Law Center. The guide includes five chapters and reviews topics like fiduciary duties, antitrust laws, securities issues, and risk management tools. Chapters are written to stand alone so readers who want to explore a single topic can skip to the chapter or section of interest. Use the self-assessment at the end of each chapter to explore how the concepts apply in your own cooperative.

 

References

Charles T. Autry & Roland F. Hall, American Bar Association Business Law Section, The Law of Cooperatives 60 (2009).

Corporate Laws Committee, American Bar Association Business Law Section, Corporate Director’s Guidebook 5-6 (6th ed. 2011).

James Baarda, U.S. Dep’t of Agric. Rural Bus. Coop. Serv. Cooperative Information Report 61, The Circle of Responsibilities for Co-op Boards 3-5 (2014).

Hannah Scott & Michael E. Traxinger, National Agricultural Law Center, Navigating Your Legal Duties: A Guide for Agricultural Cooperative Directors 11-26 (2021 https://nationalaglawcenter.org/center-publications/busorg/).

Michael W. Droke, Dorsey & Whitney LLP, Cooperative Business Law A Practical Guide to the Special Laws Governing Cooperatives 57-28 (3d. ed. 2020).

Thane Joyal & Dave Swanson, Precautions and Protections: Summarizing legal responsibilities of cooperative boards, Cooperative Grocer (Mar. – Apr. 2011 https://www.grocer.coop/system/files/legacy_files/precautions.pdf)  

[1] Charles T. Autry & Roland F. Hall, American Bar Association Business Law Section, The Law of Cooperatives 60 (2009).

The Benefits of Building More Diverse Cooperative Boards

Over the course of the last year, many businesses and organizations have recognized their lack of diversity. Harvard Business Review reported that “in a fall 2020 analysis of the 3,000 largest publicly traded U.S. companies found that just 12.5% of board directors were from underrepresented ethnic and racial groups, up from 10% in 2015. The report also found that only 4% of directors were Black, while female directors held 21% of board seats.”

As directors, management, and employees address the lack of diversity on their board, the co-op community has developed more and more research about the benefits of board diversity. From individual cooperatives sharing their success with building diverse boards to development organizations researching the impact of diversity on cooperative boards, the response has led to more diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives hoping to create more representative cooperative boards.

The growing need for more diverse cooperative boards has led to new research analyzing issues, needs, and benefits to creating a diverse board. Below, I will explore recent research revealing the benefits of diversity on boards.

Better Understand and Represent the Co-op Community

Diverse boards bring together more backgrounds, experiences, and ages to engage in the  decision-making process. When directors better represent their member-owners, their decision-making can better reflect the cooperative members, emphasizing democratic member participation, the second cooperative principle. By bringing together directors with different geographic backgrounds, sexual orientations and genders,  and/or races or ethnicities, among many other characteristics, boards that foster diversity better represent their community and make better-informed decisions for the cooperative and its member-owners.

Oklahoma State University’s Dr. Phil Kinkel found in “The Need for Board Diversity in Agricultural Cooperatives” that board diversity can help a board “relate to its internal and external stakeholders.” For example, women are an important part of the employee teams at cooperatives and “female representation on the board gives those employees a greater sense of connection with the cooperative and improves the perception of a career path.” Board diversity allows cooperatives to understand and serve both their member-owners and employees.

Better Change Styles 

Another benefit of building a diverse board of directors is the advantage that the diversity of experiences and knowledge brings to change management. The unique perspectives that each director brings to the board room can help guide the cooperative through both low risk change and high risk change that may threaten the sustainability of the business.

Dr. Phil Kinkel has found that cooperative diversity led to better change management. In his study of gender diversity on agricultural boards, Kinkel stated, “[b]oards with greater gender and age diversity appear to make better decisions, particularly when dealing with strategic issues or organizational change.” This research pushes boards to think about how diversity of ideas and experiences can benefit the entire cooperative.

In a recent blog about the value of board diversity, Ohio State’s Fisher College of Business shared research findings indicating that by having more diverse human capital, companies can better navigate “disruptive change.” The study conducted in 2018 by Bernie, Bhagwat, and Yonkers found that the “aggregate skillset” and diverse experience on more diverse boards changed the outcome of more volatile changes in the company. By including individuals with a diversity of experiences, boards can lead better together through economic, business, and social change.

As recent research has shown, cooperatives have both a social interest and a business interest in building diverse, equitable, and inclusive boards and many cooperatives are approaching board recruitment and development with renewed focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion to build more representative and sustainable enterprises. Harkening back to the seven guiding cooperative principles, diverse boards better serve their members by staying true to the democratic foundations of cooperation.

 

For more inormation:

https://fisher.osu.edu/blogs/leadreadtoday/navigating-disruption-why-board-diversity-leads-better-outcomes

https://hbr.org/2021/03/you-say-you-want-a-more-diverse-board-heres-how-to-make-it-happen

https://extension.okstate.edu/fact-sheets/the-need-for-board-diversity-in-agricultural-cooperatives.html

Youth Cooperative Leadership Experience goes online thanks to Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation grant

The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) Center for Cooperatives has rolled out a new online platform for youth education about cooperatives and agricultural careers. Youth Cooperative Leadership Experience Online (YCLE Online) is the result of a collaboration between the Center for Cooperatives and the Hocking County Farm Bureau, who were awarded an Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation Youth Pathways Grant in 2019. The grant funds would provide Appalachian high school students an opportunity to discover and explore careers in agricultural cooperatives and build leadership skills in an immersive, in-person two-day experience. Students would visit Ohio State’s Columbus campus to experience college-style learning, discover educational and career paths in agriculture, connect with leaders and engage in hands-on leadership and team-building activities. The trip would also include tours of agricultural cooperative businesses in the state. When Covid-19 lockdowns made the in-person experience impossible, the Youth Cooperative Leadership Experience was transformed to a bigger, better and more impactful virtual experience!

 

The virtual experience website features innovative and exciting ag co-op career content that teachers can easily build into their classrooms to help inspire students to discover and explore careers in agricultural cooperatives. The virtual program materials target students in middle school through high school and can be incorporated into agriculture classrooms, 4-H or other youth activities, or accessed by individual students.

“I’m happy that we were able to collaborate with Ivory Harlow and the Hocking County Farm Bureau to move the YCLE to an online platform,” said Joy Bauman, Program Specialist for the CFAES Center for Cooperatives. “The Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation grant gives us the opportunity to reach even more students with cooperative education and information about agricultural careers.”

“The YCLE Online seeks to help youth see the many career paths available to them in Ohio’s food and agricultural sector, understand the opportunities for educational pathways to those careers, and begin building a network of leaders and educators to help them along those paths,” said Hannah Scott, Program Manager CFAES Center for Cooperatives.

Many will be the first generation in their family to pursue higher education. While the Youth Cooperative Leadership Experience Online aims to remove physical and psychological barriers to continuing education​, it also helps students to see that there are many careers and leadership roles in the agriculture industry that do not require post-secondary coursework.

The YCLE Online will be available broadly to any young person interested in exploring agricultural careers through the open access website where materials are housed. The project partners will also recruit teachers, youth agriculture advisors, and other educators to incorporate the learning materials into their classrooms and activities. The Youth Cooperative Leadership Experience will be provided free of charge because of the generosity of the Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation.

The virtual experience is available at go.osu.edu/YCLE. Educators can incorporate the videos, hands-on activities, and learning materials from YCLE Online directly into their classrooms or youth activities. Through the generosity of the OFBF Youth Pathways grant, educators can both access the free online materials and request hard copy workbooks and supplies for hands-on activities at no cost while supplies last.

The Youth Cooperative Leadership Experience encourages students to discover and explore careers in agricultural cooperatives and support industries. The goal of the program is to ignite career ideas, reveal pathways, and inspire student action.

Participants will have virtual Co-op tours and hear from leaders at Heritage Cooperative, Nationwide Insurance, and Casa Nueva – a worker-owned restaurant and cantina, as well as farmer co-op leaders.

There are hands-on Activities in STEM with OSU experts including tomato grafting and fruit DNA extraction, career exploration activities, and leadership activities.  Additionally, there is opportunity for virtual tours of Ohio State’s CFAES Campuses and the Ohio State University South Centers.

The Youth Cooperative Leadership Experience program is available now at go.osu.edu/YCLE. Educators can both access the free online materials and request hard copy workbooks and supplies for hands-on activities at no cost while supplies last.  Ag teachers can learn about the program and visit with Center for Cooperatives staff at the trade show during the Ohio Agriculture Educators summer conference.

Counting Ohio’s Cooperatives: Mapping Cooperatives across the Buckeye State

Over the last year, team members with the CFAES Center for Cooperatives have collected, reviewed, and verified information from industry trade organizations, the Ohio Secretary of State, and other public sources to develop a census of almost 1,100 cooperative locations across the Buckeye state. From credit unions to food co-ops, Ohio is covered in new and established cooperatives that contribute to the state’s economy.  

In partnership with the CFAES Knowledge Exchange team at Ohio State, the data was built into an interactive map that will be available to the public. The Center is releasing a self-guided exploration of the cooperative economy that highlights the interactive map and the diversity of Ohio’s co-ops. The map will allow co-op leaders, community ownership advocates, policymakers, cooperative developers, and entrepreneurs to find cooperatives in their area and locate cooperative models to learn from as they develop new co-ops. The data will also create opportunities for the team at the Center for Cooperatives to conduct comparative historical analyses and other applied research on Ohio’s cooperative economy. 

Explore the map of Ohio’s Cooperatives here.

 

To build the cooperative database, Center staff gathered data from numerous public sources, including industry trade associations such as the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, the Ohio Credit Union League, and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, as well as federal and state sources including the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Farm Credit Administration, and the Ohio Secretary of State, among others. Center staff verified each cooperative in the database by assessing whether the entity was mutually owned by multiple members, operated on a non-profit cooperative basis, or provided bulk purchasing on a cooperative basis. Center staff also verified whether each cooperative was still active, using public sources like websites, social media, and news articles.   

The project revealed the true diversity of cooperatives in Ohio. From breweries and laundries to financial services, agriculture, and housing, each cooperative plays an important role in the state’s cooperative community and economy.

Out of the 452 cooperatives headquartered in Ohio, 228 are credit unions. The figure below shows a breakdown of cooperatives headquartered in Ohio by sector. The 1,088 physical co-op locations included in the map of Ohio’s cooperatives include cooperatives headquartered in Ohio, branches of co-ops that are headquartered in Ohio, and branch locations in Ohio of co-ops not headquartered in Ohio. 

According to the National Cooperative Bank, of the largest 100 cooperatives in the U.S. in 2019, three were headquartered in Ohio, including United Producers, Inc. (#80) headquartered in Columbus, Heritage Cooperative (#83) headquartered in Delaware, and Buckeye Power, Inc. (#84) headquartered in Columbus.