Ohio State University and Mid America Cooperative Council explore alignment

The Center for Cooperatives at The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences and the Mid America Cooperative Council (MACC) are exploring a potential arrangement for the Center for Cooperatives to provide educational and management services for MACC, which represents cooperative businesses in Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, and Michigan.

“The Mid America Cooperative Council is a multi-state, non-profit trade association that was founded in 2003 by a group of like-minded individuals with an understanding of the impact that cooperative principles have on the sustainability of co-ops,” said Rod Kelsay, the Executive Director of MACC, who expects to retire in the summer of 2020.  Ohio State and MACC are currently developing details of the arrangement and it is expected that the MACC Board of Directors will contract with the CFAES Center for Cooperatives to manage membership and conduct educational programs on its behalf.

“Our team at the CFAES Center for Cooperatives is excited about the opportunity to serve our region’s co-ops and to build the co-op community,” said Hannah Scott, Program Manager for the CFAES Center for Cooperatives.  At this point, Scott stressed that the proposed approach is aspirational and that many details must be further developed by both MACC and Ohio State.  However, after a recent meeting between the MACC Board of Directors and the CFAES Center for Cooperatives management team, Scott said, “I think we all believe that there can be mutual benefits to the MACC membership, the Center’s stakeholders, and the broader cooperative community under the proposed arrangement,” and that the work to bring this arrangement to fruition in the summer of 2020 is expected to continue.

Kelsay echoed those sentiments. “This opportunity brings access to additional educational resources, the breadth of The Ohio State University network, and additional capacity to provide important resources to MACC members, including access to future employees and co-op leaders,” Kelsay said.  “This will help MACC to further expand what has already been developed.”

Dr. Tom Worley, the Director of the Ohio State University South Centers, an agricultural research and Extension center near Piketon in south central Ohio, also serves as Director of the Center for Cooperatives.  Worley shared that the Center for Cooperatives staff will work to continue the mission of MACC and to share cooperative advantages across all co-op sectors with members, employees, and all who are vested in cooperative business.

Kelsay explained that all sectors of cooperatives were involved in establishing MACC in order to strengthen cooperatives through education. MACC educational programs range from introductory cooperative education for new cooperative employees to professional roundtable programs for financial professionals and leaders.

Dennis Bolling, retired CEO of United Producers, Inc., and longtime leader in the cooperative community in the Midwest and nationally, facilitated the exploration of the management agreement. “With the leadership supplied by the Center for Cooperatives, combined with the efforts of the MACC membership, the shared mission of education will be enhanced and have excellent potential for expansion,” said Bolling.

For questions, contact Tom Worley at 740-289-2071 ext. 113 or worley.36@osu.edu.

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