Friday, October 5, 2012

Celebrating the cooperative structure

Do you remember why you chose membership with your local cooperative? It may be among many reasons shared by 130 million people who have also chosen cooperatives, but it most likely has something to do with the common philosophy of people helping people.

Unlike other businesses, cooperatives are not-for-profit, democratically controlled, volunteer-run, member-owned enterprises. They exist to serve their members, and that level of service remains high even during even the toughest times. Instead of issuing stock or paying dividends to outside shareholders, co-ops provide value to their members through their level of customer services and membership checks at the end of each year.

Cooperatives operate across all sectors and include agriculture, food distribution and retailing, childcare, credit unions, purchasing, worker-owned, housing, health care, energy and telecommunications cooperatives.

Cooperatives and credit unions celebrate Co-op Month every October. The United Nations General Assembly Resolution 64/136 proclaimed 2012 as the International Year of Cooperatives (IYC). This year's theme is "Cooperative Enterprises Build a Better World."

“Cooperatives have a rich and diverse history in the United States and around the world,” said National Cooperative Business Association President and CEO Paul Hazen. “Ben Franklin brought cooperative enterprise to America in 1752 when he and fellow Philadelphians founded the first mutual insurance company in the country. The business and of the cooperative philosophy are evident as the Philadelphia Contributionship continues to operate,” he continued.

Mid Kansas Cooperative was formed in 1965 by the merger of three neighboring cooperatives in Moundridge, Buhler and Groveland. Since its founding, it has grown in size and territory providing a complete line of supplies and services for both farm and urban customers in 11 counties throughout central Kansas. MKC currently employs more than 200 people.

“Every day, MKC works to demonstrate that cooperative enterprises build a better world,” states Dave Christiansen, President and CEO of MKC. “Not only do we provide product and services to help our members succeed, but we believe we are helping to strengthen our communities through our people, jobs, services and community involvement.”

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