News & Views

It might seem early for a “year in review”, but our fiscal year ended on August 31, so we’re both looking back at what we’ve accomplished AND looking forward to opportunities for increased impact in the year ahead.

At our November 15 Annual Meeting in Stevens Point WI, the CDS board will receive both an “Ends Report” from me, describing the results we have had this past year, and an independent auditor’s review of our finances. Both will be used in the Annual Report to be completed and posted to our website in January. 

Small And Strong 2016 conference, November 12, 2016, for small food co-ops and start-ups, with registration starting at 8:15 a.m. at Normandale Community College in Bloomington MN.  The conference will again include tracks for boards and staff of existing co-ops (with sales under $3 million), and a special track for start-ups offered by Food Co-op Initiative.

Our budget for 2017 includes a goal of at least $50,000 from individuals and co-ops.  Thanks to Mississippi Market, we made a huge leap forward in October with their Positive Change program contribution of $9,763.84 to support work with local, organic and sustainable farmers.

Small food co-ops sometimes struggle with isolation as well as gaining adequate sales and resources to develop local leadership. That was the case for Whole Earth Grocery Co-op in River Falls, WI before board member Madeline Kuizek and staff member Anna Zalusky reached out to CDS and others for governance and operational support.

Promoting a national vision for cross-sector cooperation, while holding tight to a grassroots emphasis on co-op development, is quite a balancing act.  Dennis Johnson, a 2016 inductee into the Cooperative Hall of Fame, has built his career on creating alliances that allow cooperative solutions to take root and thrive.

With support from foundations and donors like you, CDS has taken on the challenge of urban development, and in 2015 initiated projects in the Riverwest neighborhood of Milwaukee, Northeast Minneapolis, and several neighborhoods in St. Paul.

On November 7, 2015, almost 100 members and managers from 34 small and start-up co-ops from WI, MN, MI, IA and ND gathered at the inaugural Small And Strong Conference at Normandale Community College in Minneapolis. The annual conference is only one part of a package of support being created by a team of co-op organizations including Northcountry Cooperative Foundation, Shared Capital Cooperative, UW Center for Cooperatives, and Land Stewardship Project, and sponsored by CDS Consulting Co-op, the CHS Foundation, and the Cooperative Foundation.  Commitments are already in place for a 2016 conference, and a 4-5 session webinar series; we’re still developing funding for a cost-share program for individualized technical assistance, and a peer support network, all to be put in place in 2016.

Cooperative Development Services has completed a case study of the cooperative food system in the Twin Cities with particular focus on this as a local foods system operating at scale. Authored by Joan Stockinger of CDS and Dave Gutknecht of Cooperative Grocer magazine, the full study is available for download in PDF format.  CDS and the authors are available to discuss the findings of the study with interested cooperatives, co-op related groups, and local foods groups.  Contact us at  info@cdsus.coop with inquiries.

January 3, 2013 - Two generations of the Van der Pol family operate Pastures a Plenty, a value-added pork business in Kerkhoven MN. From 2010-12, CDS assisted the Van der Pols with business planning to expand their operation; we also assisted them in obtaining funding to implement their business plan through USDA's Value-Added Producer Grant program. 

November 20, 2012    CDS has always been fortunate to have board members provide vision and leadership, and who embody cooperative values. Bob Bauman was a CDS board member, representing rural electric co-ops, in the 1990s during a period of great growth.  We are pleased to note his most recent honor:  Induction into the Iowa Cooperative Hall of Fame.