Greater Wabash Regional Planning Commission in conjunction with Wabash Valley College and USDA Rural Development will be hosting an event on Tuesday, October 25th at Wabash Valley College (Science Building- Band Room) from 1:00-4:00 p.m. The public is invited to come and learn more about how the cooperative model can work in any type of business. We are hosting this educational forum to bring together individuals and organizations interested in how coops can support community economic development. Interest is rising in alternative models for local businesses that will be responsive to community needs as well as stimulate local economic growth. Since October has been celebrated as Cooperative Month for over half a century, now is a good time to take a fresh look at the cooperative form of business.
* Cooperatives have the potential to foster economic growth at the community and regional level, building on the spirit of cooperation and behaviors that are already prevalent in rural areas.
* This potential was recognized in the provisions of the last two farm bills, which authorized substantial financial allocations for a rural cooperative development program.
* Cooperatives offer a way for a group of individuals to pool their limited resources to achieve a critical mass.
* The cooperative model is being used by industries as diverse as long term care, food hubs and distribution, arts marketing and galleries, conventional groceries, senior housing, disability services, nonprofit shared services, forest management, logging, employment among people with mental illness, home care workers and more.
The purpose of the forum is to:
* Provide information on current trends and opportunities in cooperative development
* Expand understanding of the role of cooperatives in community economic development
* Generate new and support existing interest
* Provide follow up direction to help move opportunities forward toward reality.
The key note speaker is Margaret Bau, who has been a cooperative Development specialist with USDA Rural Development since 1998. Also involved would be personnel from the Illinois Cooperative Development Center, hosted by the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs at Western Illinois University, speaking to the work of their Center in support and training of cooperatives across Illinois; and USDA Rural Development in Illinois staff. For more information, call 618-445-3612.