CFAES Center for Cooperatives kicks off Appalachia Cooperates Initiative

A group of individuals interested in growing co-op culture in central Appalachia filled the meeting room March 22 at the West Virginia State University Economic Development Center in Charleston, WV when the Ohio State University CFAES Center for Cooperatives hosted the inaugural meeting of the Appalachia Cooperates Initiative.  The group ranged from farmers and small business owners, to attorneys, credit unions, and cooperative business development agencies.

Featured speakers included Dr. J. Todd Nesbitt, Professor in the Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Geography at Pennsylvania’s Lock Haven University and Leslie Schaller, one of the founding members of Casa Nueva, a successful worker-owned restaurant cooperative and also the Director of Programs at the Appalachian Center for Economic Networks (ACEnet) in Athens, Ohio.  Nesbitt, who has studied and developed a course on sustainability in Appalachia, shared “A Case for Economic Distributism in West Virginia.”  Schaller shared the history and development of Casa Nueva and insights on the success of the cooperative business.

Participants also heard from Gail Patton, Executive Director and Ursulette Huntley, Program Director at Unlimited Future, Inc., a non-for-profit microenterprise development center and business incubator, who shared their experience with the development of one of West Virginia’s first non-agriculture cooperatives.

During lunchtime, attendees viewed the film, Shift Change, and learned about worker-owned co-ops not far from the Appalachian region and around the world.  “Seeing how a worker-owned co-op can empower members of a community and provide jobs and economic growth for an area helped to spark some ideas among those in attendance,” said Joy Bauman, program coordinator at the OSU CFAES Center for Cooperatives.

Daniel Eades, West Virginia University Rural Economics Extension Specialist and Michael Dougherty, West Virginia University Community Resources and Economic Development Extension Specialist led a discussion about challenges with developing businesses in Central Appalachia, ways Appalachian communities are uniquely positioned to develop businesses, and what resources and tools work well in Central Appalachia’s environment.  This activity led to much discussion and discovery of ways those interested in growing the cooperative culture in Central Appalachia can network to assist each other and share solutions.

OSU CFAES Center for Cooperatives program manager Hannah Scott spoke about resources and technical assistance offered by the Center and encouraged participants to stay connected and consider becoming involved on a regular basis with the Appalachia Cooperates Initiative group.  “Getting cooperative-minded people together to connect and learn from each other’s experiences will help them build a network that fosters cooperative business,” Scott explained.

Scott said that the CFAES Center for Cooperatives will soon be planning another activity for those interested in the Appalachia Cooperates Initiative, and that she hopes to hold quarterly events for the group over the coming year.  If you are interested in developing co-op culture in Central Appalachia, for more information, or to be added to the Appalachia Cooperates Initiative email list to be notified about upcoming events, contact Joy Bauman at 740-289-2071 ext. 111 or email bauman.67@osu.edu.

Converting small business to employee ownership

Employee ownership can be a business retention strategy in under-invested communities.  These co-ops retain jobs and anchor businesses in communities.  Read more about worker-owned co-op conversions in the Winter Issue of the Cooperative Business Journal.

Worker-ownership is one of the topics we will explore at our upcoming Appalachia Cooperates Initiative meeting on Friday, March 22 at the West Virginia State University Economic Development Center, 1506 Kanawha Blvd. West, Charleston, WV.   Registration is $25 and includes lunch.

Learn from practitioners growing co-op culture in Appalachia.

  • Dr. J. Todd Nesbitt, Lock Haven University, will share “A Case for Economic Distributism in West Virginia.”
  • Leslie Schaller, Casa Nueva, will discuss “Building a Worker-Owned Business in Central Appalachia.”
  • Ursulette Huntley and Gail Patton, Unlimited Future, will share “Catalyzing a Community Owned Business.”
  • Join discussions about growing co-ops in our region and creating the Appalachia Cooperates Initiative.
  • Learn about worker-owned co-ops across the globe with a lunchtime showing of the film Shift Change.

Register at go.osu.edu/appalachiacooperates

 

 

 

U.S. Ag Co-op Trends: Numbers declining, business volume increasing

Dr. Iryna Demko, formerly an agribusiness researcher with the Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics (AEDE) at Ohio State University, has released a report on research she conducted while at OSU about trends of U.S. agricultural cooperatives, showing how the number of agricultural cooperatives in the U.S. has declined while cooperative business volume and number of members has increased.  Dr. Demko currently is a research associate at the Center for Economic Development at Cleveland State University. Dr. Demko’s full report, Trends of U.S. Agricultural Cooperatives: 1913 to 2016,” has been published by the Center for Cooperatives and is now available for viewing on the Center’s webpage.

Latest World Cooperative Monitor report available

The latest edition of the World Cooperative Monitor report on the world’s largest cooperative and mutual organizations has been released, providing rankings of the Top 300 and sector analysis based on 2016 financial data. This report has a new feature: an analysis of the Top 300 and the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), taking a look at how the largest cooperative enterprises and mutual in the world are moving toward achieving the SDGs. There are many examples of cooperative development of projects to ensure fair labor, protect the environment, and more to meet the SDGs.

 

Building Regional Food Hubs

A conference connecting healthy food, farms and communities, dedicated to the life and work of Patrick Kaufman.

Join us Nov. 9 for a one-day conference to connect practitioners, researchers, activists and others engaged in the development of regional food hubs to network and share best practices. Practitioners and researchers will share the findings of a food hub project aimed at improving food access in Columbus, among other learning opportunities.

This conference is presented by Methodist Theological School in Ohio, the Initiative for Food and AgriCultural Transformation (InFACT) of The Ohio State University, Franklinton Farms, and Seminary Hill Farm on the campus of MTSO. It is supported in part by a Linkage and Leverage grant through InFACT.

TIME AND LOCATION

The conference will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 9 on the campus of MTSO, 3081 Columbus Pike in Delaware. Here is a Google map. A full schedule for the day will be posted soon.

We are looking for an intern at the CFAES Center for Cooperatives

Do you know a college student who is looking for a job this summer? The CFAES Center for Cooperatives is looking for a student assistant. If you know of someone who has a good work ethic and the experience that we are looking for from the position description below, please have them apply. It is a great opportunity!

Position Description: Student Assistant will work under the direction of the CFAES Center for Cooperatives staff to follow up with clients to gather impacts; gather data for research projects, market research, case studies and feasibility studies; draft, review, and edit articles and blog posts, social media content, online course content and interactive course content; edit video and audio for use in education and marketing materials; assist with market development activities; make personal contact to boost engagement in Center for Cooperatives programs.

Location: Position is headquartered in Piketon, Ohio. Flexible schedule with telecommuting permitted. Work schedule is dependent on student assistant availability (May through August, 2018).

One year of college required.

Required Experience: Excellent written and verbal communication skills; ability to function effectively independently; efficient and effective in managing multiple priorities; proficiency in Microsoft Office.

Desired Experience: Knowledge of cooperative business model, agriculture background/interest, experience in video and audio editing, gamification and interactive and visual content creation, infographic creation.

Salary $10.00 – $13.00

Please send cover letter and application to Beth Rigsby at rigsby.22@osu.edu or 1864 Shyville Road, Piketon, OH 45661 by April 6, 2018.

Application can be downloaded from the OSU South Centers Employment Opportunities page.