Roundtables Identify Co-op Policy Needs
From Billings to Harrisburg, Madison to Olympia, and Maple Grove to Denver, cooperative leaders met to discuss policy initiatives to encourage and scale cooperative development. Since April, CDF and NCBA CLUSA partnered with cooperative development centers in Montana, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Washington and Colorado to host day-long policy roundtables. The events brought to the table nearly 400 state and local elective officials, legislative staff members, public employees, tribal leaders and cooperators. Shorter events were held in Birmingham, Alabama and Arlington, Virginia. A roundtable in Sacramento, California is scheduled for December 10.
While the needs of frontier communities in the Upper Plains differ in scale from the needs of inter-city Minneapolis, the roundtables highlighted commonalities across cooperative sectors and geography. Access to capital, cooperative education and outreach, and technical assistance and training topped the list of cooperative policy initiatives at all the roundtables.
The Cooperative Regional Policy Roundtables are part of the work financed by a grant to CDF from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to look at the impact of cooperatives in building healthy, sustainable, and equitable communities. The Urban Institute, a respected, independent research organization, will combine input from the roundtables with key informant interviews to develop a Cooperative Policy Guide. Scheduled to be released in early 2020, the publication will help cooperatives chart a policy agenda for the coming years