The Center for Cooperatives in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University is working on a project to assess the professional legal, accounting, and tax services available to cooperative and collaborative businesses in Ohio and West Virginia.
The goals of the project are twofold.
- First, using information collected from an online survey, the Center will create a directory of professionals who provide services to cooperatives and collaborative enterprises.
- Second, the Center will use online survey responses to better understand professionals’ experience levels, continuing education practices, and interests in network building to help develop programming and resources for professionals in our region’s cooperative community.
If you are an attorney, accountant, or tax professional who works with cooperatives and collaborative enterprises, we invite you to take the short survey at the link below. The survey will gather information for a directory of professionals and ask about your experience with cooperatives as well as continuing education and networking interests. We anticipate that the survey will take approximately 5-10 minutes of your time.
If you know legal, financial, or tax professionals working with cooperatives, please forward this invitation to participate to them! Gathering robust information will help us create valuable resources for the cooperative community.
If you have questions about his project, please contact Hannah Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org or 740-289-2071 ext. 227. This survey is for a study being conducted by The Ohio State University.
The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences Center for Cooperatives launched Co-op Mastery: Beyond Cooperatives 101, a new and innovative online training course designed to educate cooperative members, boards, management, employees, and students.
Co-op Mastery: Beyond Cooperatives 101 is made possible by a grant from the CHS Foundation 2017 Cooperative Education Grants Program. The training is housed in The Ohio State University’s public-facing online education platform. It is free and can be accessed online at go.osu.edu/coopmastery.
“Co-op Mastery curriculum focuses on mid-level knowledge about the cooperative business model,” said Center for Cooperatives Program Manager, Hannah Scott. “Training modules build on existing fundamental materials by providing an in-depth look at governance, finance, taxation and other areas not typically covered by courses in fundamentals, yet challenging topics for stakeholders.”
The training features eight modules which include video interviews with numerous leaders in the cooperative movement:
- Logan County Electric Cooperative General Manager Rick Petty discusses cooperative principles and various functions of cooperatives.
- Dennis Bolling retired President and CEO of United Producers Cooperative shares the benefits cooperatives provide members.
- Mid-America Cooperative Counsel Executive Director Rod Kelsay discusses effective education and training the Board of Directors.
- Ohio State Univerisity Extension Educator Dr. Chris Bruynis gives insight to key factors that contribute to a cooperative’s success.
- Nationwide’s VP of Sponsor Relations Devin Fuhrman shares the story of Nationwide’s history as a mutual cooperative company.
- Agricultural attorney Carolyn Eselgroth of Barrett, Easterday, Cunningham and Eselgroth, LLP addresses legal considerations when forming a cooperative business.
- Co-Bank Senior Relationship Manager Gary Weidenborner leads users through an interactive financial document exercise.
- David Hahn, Professor Emeritus the Ohio State University, explains cooperative taxation.
“We invite folks to ask questions and receive answers from our Center staff in the online Co-op Forum,” said Joy Bauman, Program Coordinator. “They can also browse an extensive collection of online resources in the Cooperative Library.”
The CFAES Center for Cooperatives offers customized in-person workshops to complement the online training. Workshops are designed to serve the requesting cooperative’s needs. Examples include: new employee education, board of director education, strategic plan development, cooperative marketing and policy development. Workshop participants receive a companion workbook with activities to fortify learning. They gain on-going access to Co-op Mastery online training materials, which they may work through at their own pace or search for specific information to meet immediate needs. Users can return to the Co-op Mastery online materials at any time to troubleshoot cooperative issues and they can receive ongoing technical assistance from CFAES Center for Cooperatives staff. To request a workshop or more information, visit go.osu.edu/cooperatives or contact the Center for Cooperatives at email@example.com or 740-289-2071 ext. 111.
Low salaries, high turnover and lack of employee engagement are prevalent in food service. Eight food entrepreneurs had a solution; they would create a restaurant that empowered employees through ownership. In 1985 they opened Casa Nueva, the first worker-owned cooperative restaurant in Ohio, in the heart of downtown Athens.
In 1987 Casa Nueva worked with the Appalachian Center for Economic Networks (ACEnet) to develop and market a product line of salsas and other value-added goods. The restaurant added a cantina in 1993, and a second kitchen in 2003.
Worker ownership in practice
Casa Nueva carries out daily operations with the help of worker-owners and non-owners (associates). 1/3 of staff are worker-owners, 2/3 are associates. Associates have an opportunity to apply for ownership after working 1000 hours in the restaurant, serving on special committees and earning positive performance evaluations. The co-op board of directors vote to approve or disapprove the associate’s application for ownership. All new owners contribute equity. The cost is offset by a raise that goes into effect when an associate becomes a member of the cooperative. Other benefits of membership include: voting rights, paid time-off, insurance and scheduling preference.
For over 30 years Casa has provided worker-owners with meaningful work, sustainable jobs and opportunities for advancement. Fresh ingredients, Mexican-inspired flavors, culture, music and art delight locals and students of Ohio University, the city’s main economic driver.
Founder Leslie Schaller shares Casa Nueva’s Story
The blog features cooperative businesses, current events and research. It showcases leaders in the cooperative movement and gleans best practices. Collaboration Nation is all about building great teams and working together to achieve goals.
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