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What is a Co-op?

A cooperative is a business with certain unique characteristics.  A cooperative business is owned and democratically controlled by its members - people who have organized to provide themselves with needed goods and services.  A cooperative is voluntary, and operated for the benefit of its member-owners.  A cooperative takes advantage of economies of scale by pooling buying power.  A cooperative returns any profits - after bills are paid and money is set aside for operations and improvements - to the co-op members.

Co-ops are Everywhere!!

Four out of every ten Americans have come to depend on cooperatives for a range of goods and services.  There are consumer-owned cooperatives selling clothing, appliances, camping gear, bicycles and books.  There are cooperative wholesalers providing products, branding and other services to independent hardware, grocery and natural foods businesses.  There are co-ops disseminating news and photographs, and co-ops for the arts community.  There are cooperatives that provide electricity and telephone service.  By nature, credit unions and mutual insurance companies are cooperatives because they are member-owned.  There are thousands of agriculture co-ops and cooperatives providing financing to farmers.  There are cooperatively organized employee-owned companies, cooperative purchasing groups for fast-food franchisees, and, of course, housing co-ops. 

The Institute has a new and revised publication available!

"Do You Know Your Cooperative" published by the Iowa Institute for Cooperatives contains 191 common questions and answers about cooperatives.  It was written primarily as a compact source of cooperative information for members, young people, employees, and others interested in or connected with farmer cooperatives.  Efforts have been made to limit each question to one idea, and to make the answers as short and direct as possible.

If you are interested in purchasing a copy, please contact us.  Single copy cost is $5.00.  Prices for quantities are negotiable.


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