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Cooperatives: The Key to Economic Recovery

Cooperatives will save this nation, according to respected political economist and historian, Gar Alperovitz. Recently, he spoke about his book "What Then Must We Do?," in which he notes a very interesting trend—more Americans are working in employee-owned companies and are members of at least one cooperative. This uptick in more democratized forms of ownership could mean the country is turning away from traditional corporate-dominated capitalism.

This is great news for credit unions in Missouri! 

"Most people don't realize that changing the ownership of wealth means one person, one vote. That's what a co-op is,” Alperovitz says. “130 million Americans are already members of co-ops.”

Credit unions make up a large percentage of that 130 million figure, but that’s only one piece of the puzzle. Missouri is bursting with cooperatives. It’s important to remember that there are many different types of co-ops, and that there might be opportunity for collaboration between your credit union and other member-owned businesses. These kinds of partnerships not only make good business sense, but they positively stimulate the local economy as well.

The first step in forming these relationships is to introduce your credit union to other cooperatives. Many people do not realize that credit unions are financial co-ops. To get acquainted with each other, host a meet-up or meeting with representatives of local member-owned organizations.

Not sure what co-ops are near you? Check out Cooperate USA for a full listing. 

Here are a few examples of how to team up with other cooperatives.

  • Invite cooperative leadership to speak at your credit union’s annual meeting or other events.
  • Assign a staff member to act as a liaison to cooperatives.
  • Work with local co-ops to host financial seminars, career fairs or other events.
  • Offer financial products to cooperatives, including loans for housing co-ops that fit within your field of membership or business accounts for cooperatives.

Don't limit yourself when seeking partnerships. Be open to new ideas. Perhaps, you might even invite co-op leaders to brainstorm various ways to work together. The sky is the limit! If Alperovitz's observations ring true, it's the perfect time for cooperatives to join together and increase their market share. 

To hear his full interview click here.