At CDS, the idea of “cooperative development” goes far beyond the process of starting or converting to a cooperative business structure. We believe that in order to remain vital and relevant businesses, all co-ops must consistently be improving their communications and relationships with member-owners, identifying ways of meeting emerging needs, and taking advantage of new market opportunities. CDS uses several approaches to meet needs of our clients.
Education programs for existing co-ops: We sponsor and present at several educational conferences throughout the year. We provide conference and meeting planning services for Cooperative Network’s annual Senior Co-op Housing Conference, attracting over 350 board members, managers and allied industry every year. We co-host the Small And Strong one-day workshop for small food co-ops in the Upper Midwest. In March 2020, we delivered the Employee Ownership Roadshow to increase awareness of worker-owned co-ops as a succession strategy for small business owners, and intend to make this a regular offering. We are available to speak at conferences and other gatherings as well.
Governance and board planning support: Governance might be the Achilles heel of the cooperative model. If good board leadership is not present, it is incredibly difficult to know the needs of member owners and retain their trust and business loyalty. CDS provides support to boards for strategic planning and skill building.
Business assessment: In a constantly changing business environment, co-ops are always looking for ways of meeting needs for new or improved services. CDS staff are able to provide third party feasibility analysis and business planning support to co-ops or their business members.
Paying for our services: Most of our business development services are offered on a fee-for-service basis. But if there is some flexibility in when the work is required, CDS is often successful in securing grant funds, sponsorships or other sources of financial support that reduce or eliminate out-of-pocket expenses for our clients. Contact us to discuss your ideas and needs!