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Area businesses celebrate National Cooperative Month PDF Print E-mail
Written by Darci Tomky   
On the outside, cooperatives look like any other business, but unique behind-the-scenes characteristics of the five area co-ops make them a valuable addition to the community.

Grainland Co-op, Highline Electric Association, Holyoke Community Federal Credit Union, Paoli Farmers Co-op and PC Telcom are not only serving their members, but their members are, in fact, the owners.

The members/owners of cooperatives have a say in the business decisions of the cooperative. “Individuals who are members have a voice,” said Sharon Crist of PC Telcom.

To cooperate means to work or act together for a common purpose or benefit, therefore a co-op is formed for the purpose of accomplishing a task that cannot be achieved alone. Members pool their resources to make the cooperative stronger, added Ron Goldenstein of Holyoke Community Federal Credit Union.

All the local co-ops are strong, said Dixie Fagerlin of Highline. “Members have helped the co-ops stay strong.”

Worldwide, 130 million people have chosen cooperatives, most likely because of the common philosophy of people helping people.

The seven cooperative principles are voluntary and open membership; democratic member control; member economic participation; autonomy and independence; education, training and information; cooperation among cooperatives; and concern for community.

According to statistics from the University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives Research, cooperatives have a significant economic impact. There are more than 29,000 cooperative businesses in this country that generate more than two million jobs, create more than $74 billion in wages and account for more than $654 billion in revenue.

The principles behind cooperatives are what have allowed them to persevere through a struggling economy.

“Where there are healthy co-ops, the overall business economy will be better,” said Crist.

Since co-ops are run largely by the people who live and work in the communities they serve, they show an uncommon loyalty and commitment to that community. Local co-ops are very visible in the community and have a great deal of accountability, said Fagerlin.

Cooperatives are motivated to serve and focus on their members, not outside investors. Therefore it’s much more personal—not cold, unconnected businesses.

October is National Co-op Month, and cooperatives across the nation are recognizing the benefits and values co-ops bring to their members.

To show appreciation to local co-op members, the five area businesses are sponsoring a breakfast Saturday, Oct. 23 from 7-10 a.m. at the Phillips County Event Center. Everyone is invited to attend.