CW works closely with partners and allies to advocate for cooperatives. Our nationwide network enables us to both keep our finger on the co-op pulse and quickly mobilize our members to take action in regard to matters that affect co-ops and cooperative development.
CW has been a longtime champion of the Rural Cooperative Development Grant. The RCDG program helps improve the economic condition of rural areas by helping individuals and businesses start, expand or improve rural cooperatives and other mutually-owned businesses through Cooperative Development Centers. Grants are awarded through a national competition. Though the amount varies annually, the RCDG typically awards ~$6 million to 30 centers doing cooperative development across the US. Learn more about the impact of these grants in our success stories.
The Interagency Working Group for Cooperative Development (IWGCD) was established to foster cooperative development and ensure coordination with Federal agencies and national and local cooperative organizations that have cooperative programs and interests.
With the expansion of cooperatives in healthcare, local food distribution, manufactured housing, as well as community economic development in starting and preserving businesses, interagency sharing of information in the Federal Government will expand and improve these efforts. The cooperative community is interested in sharing knowledge and working with government agencies at local, state, and federal levels.
The IWGCD will become a centralized source of expert knowledge and resources for helping cooperatives and government agencies achieve their shared goals. Our cooperative partners and participating agencies are listed on the resources tab.
The Cooperative Business Caucus is a bipartisan Congressional caucus created to promote the cooperative business model as a viable market solution and policy option that can help solve a number of today’s public policy challenges and educate and inform policymakers on those issues before Congress and the Administration.
Learn more about the caucus. If your Congress member is not yet a member of the Cooperative Business Caucus, we urge you to reach out and ask them to join. You can find your Senators’ contact information here and your Representatives’ contact information here. The National Cooperative Business Association has created a sample letter for you to use when contacting your elected officials and asking them to join.
Will you reach out to your Congress Members and urge them to join the Cooperative Business Caucus today?
Reach out to you Member of Congress and ask them to submit a Member Appropriations Submission supporting RCDG to their House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture. Follow the simple steps outlined below to make your voice heard! These submissions are due on Friday, March 16th, so take action today!
If you’re not sure who your Representative is, visit this website. Enter your zipcode and voila! – your Member of Congress and their contact info at your fingertips!
Send an email to your Representative’s office asking: a) if they submit requests, b) if they do, if they have a form needed to do so.
To make sure that your message has been received and directed to the correct staff person, field a follow-up call and ask for their Agriculture Appropriations Legislative Assistant.
SBA Listening Session on the Main Street Employee Ownership Act
The Small Business Administration held listening sessions for exploring alternatives to the personal guarantee requirement for 7(a) loans on Tuesday, March 12th and Friday March 29th. Along with many other partners and allies in the cooperative community, CW made comments with our suggestions for how to hold cooperatives accountable for loans with no personal guarantee. You can read our statement here.
2020 RCDG Appropriations
The Rural Cooperative Development Grant program provides critical funding for building and supporting robust, people-powered economies throughout Rural America. From 2008-2017, these funds have created or saved nearly 15,000 jobs, supported the incorporation of over 1000 businesses, and enabled cooperative developers to assist in the creation of more than 4000 cooperative housing units. From ag co-ops to senior housing to community owned grocery stores, co-ops are the heartbeat of the heartland. This year, as in the last two, the President’s Budget calls for an elimination of this vital program. Cutting the RCDG would strip rural communities of the technical assistance, training, and support needed to create thriving, locally and cooperatively owned businesses that play a key role in revitalizing rural economies. Contrary to the President’s request, CW members understand the importance of this program and are making requests to their Senators and Members of Congress to increase funding to the program from $5.8 million to $8 million. We are working with the National Cooperative Business Association to make these requests. Learn more about what we’re asking for here.
2019 RCDGs Announced!
The awards for the FY 2019 Rural Cooperative Development Grants have been announced and we are pleased to say that many CW members are recipients! This annual funding, which totaled nearly $6 million this year, enables cooperative development centers to work in rural areas. Grant recipients assist groups with start-ups and conversions, help keep ownership of community resources local, enable small business to thrive, and help keep jobs and money in the local economy. Their work in rural communities is crucial for maintaining and rebuilding the vibrancy of rural America. Congratulations to all recipients and especially to our CW members, listed below!
Agriculture Utilization Research Institute
California Center for Cooperative Development
Carolina Common Enterprise
Cooperative Development Institute
Cooperative Development Services
Democracy at Work Institute
Food Co-op Initiative
Indiana Cooperative Development Center
Kentucky Center for Agricultural Research and Development
Keystone Development Center
Lake County Community Development Corporation
Mississippi Center for Cooperative Development
Montana Cooperative Development Center
Northwest Agricultural Business Center
Northwest Cooperative Development Center
North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives
Rocky Mountain Farmers Union
South Dakota Value Added Agriculture Development Center
Texas Rural Cooperatives Center
University of Alaska Cooperative Development Center
University of Western Illinois Cooperative Development Center
University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives
Main Street Employee Ownership Act
August 13th, 2018 – The Main Street Employee Ownership Act is passed into law with bipartisan support. U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez championed this bill, along with co-sponsors Senator James Risch (R-ID), Chair of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), Ranking Member of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, and U.S. Senators Todd Young (R-IN), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Cory Booker (D-NJ). This is the first time in over 20 years that legislation specifically supporting employee-owned business has passed. It makes worker-owned businesses eligible for 7a loans, directs the SBA to provide support for technical assistance, and requires reporting on SBA’s lending and outreach to these businesses.
June 14th, 2018 – The Main Street Employee Ownership act has officially been included in the National Defense Authorization Act, which means it will most likely be passed into law within the next week. Learn more about Senator Gillibrand’s efforts to support worker co-ops here.
On May 8th, 2018, the House passed H.R.5236, the Main Street Employee Ownership Act on ! Many thanks to Senator Gillibrand for her many months of work on this, to Justin Pelletier and Melissa Jung on the Small Business Committee for all of their work to get this done, and to Congresswoman @NydiaVelazquez for her leadership on this. Check back in soon for more updates on H.R.5236.
Employee-Ownership.-It is noted that worker owned businesses are uniquely structured to provide wide-ranging economic benefits. In order to encourage new and assist existing employee owned businesses, SBA is directed to provide education and outreach to businesses, employees, and financial institutions about employee-ownership. This effort should include information about the different business structures available, such as cooperatives, Employee Stock Ownership Plans, and technical assistance to assist employee efforts to become businesses. Further, SBA is directed to develop guidance on employee-ownership to approved lenders and assist in accessing financing through the 7(a)(15) loan guarantee program.
Thanks for Senator Gillibrand for advocating for worker-owned businesses and ensuring their benefits are recognized and encouraged!
Also passed in the March 23rd omnibus were FY2018 appropriations for Rural Business-Cooperative Services. These included:
$8,800,000 for Rural Cooperative Development Grant and Socially Disadvantaged Groups Grant
$2,750,000 for ATTRA
$16,000,000 for Value-Added Producers Grant
RCDG funds support a vibrant, thriving rural America. Learn more about some of the success stories of RCDG-funded centers here.