Even before the Covid crisis, we were facing the silver tsunami: loss of small businesses, jobs, and local tax base due to inadequate ownership succession planning. With Covid, we know it’s going to be a hard time for small businesses. Really hard.
Cooperative ownership is a positive solution to prevent the loss of some of those businesses.
For 35 years, Cooperative Development Services has grown our expertise in guiding consumers to start and own businesses key to their communities, like grocery stores and movie theatres. We have helped employees form worker-owned co-ops to buy their businesses from retiring owners, saving jobs and local services. We have helped groups leverage community capital to form investment co-ops to purchase and sustainably manage key commercial property in a way that strengthens neighborhoods. In each of the last four years, our programs have served over 100 co-ops and startups. We know what is needed now.
In future newsletters, we will describe strategies that can be used by groups and communities during the coming recession. If they make sense to you, we encourage you to make a gift at Giving Tuesday. The Giving Tuesday campaign runs May 5-May 26; your contributions will leverage local, state and national matching funds!
We a small nonprofit with 3 full-time and 3 part-time employees. Our plan is to add one full time position in the coming year to focus primarily on employee ownership conversions. We’re pursuing $100,000 in major grants and gifts to provide salary, benefits, travel and office support, and other program expenses to launch this position. (Yes, we will need to raise those dollars every year going forward as well).
But smaller gifts are needed too. Individual donors are evidence to foundations and others that we have local support.
While pursuing major funding, we are redirecting existing staff time to respond to new inquiries, create new information and programs, and build the partnerships and networks needed to serve this region during a time of small business crisis. We need to cover smaller costs of travel, printing, phone time. Every contribution helps and will be put to good use!
You Can Support a Cooperative Economy in a Time of Small Business Crisis
There are many ways you can support a vision of local cooperative businesses connected to and meeting needs in their communities. The Giving Tuesday platform is one of them. But there are other ways, including gifts of both time and money.
We also participate in GiveMN at Home, a state-based nonprofit giving platform. To Donate now go to GiveMN.
We accept direct contribution by checks, which can be mailed to us at 997 Ticonderoga Trail, Eagan, MN 55123. Finally, we can accept donations of publicly traded stock; contact us for more details.
But there are personal ways you can support the creation of a cooperative economy as well. Encourage your friends to subscribe to our newsletter. Take advantage of co-op discussions and gatherings in or near your community. Shop at cooperatively owned businesses. Join a co-op or credit union (a credit union is a financial services cooperative). If you’re already a co-op member, attend the annual meeting, and consider providing leadership by working on a committee, or running for the board. Finally, watch this newsletter for volunteer opportunities in the coming year. We welcome getting to know you and other partners in this movement.