IMPACT 2017 Provides Unique Opportunity to Advance Shared Interests of Co-op Ecosystem


Drawing more than 300 people from some 130 organizations to Alexandria, Virginia this month, NCBA CLUSA’s inaugural Co-op IMPACT Conference was an unprecedented opportunity to amplify and foster the research and data critical to quantify and expand the economic impact of cooperatives and create the tools necessary to influence public policy.

Co-hosted by the National Cooperative Bank, IMPACT 2017 marked a pivotal shift in NCBA CLUSA’s conference history, bringing together an ambitious docket of speakers and attendees representing 10 co-op sectors, 18 countries and dozens of educational institutions, foundations, law and accounting firms, government agencies and international development organizations—all with the overarching goal to advance the shared interests of the cooperative ecosystem, regardless of sector or industry.

IMPACT 2017’s kick-off plenary, “The State of the Co-op Economy,” provided a new forum for best-in-class research by members of NCBA CLUSA’s Council of Cooperative Economists. Their preliminary data and analysis, presented during the conference and published in the Fall 2017 issue of the Cooperative Business Journal, measures the current economic impact of cooperatives and begins to quantify the cooperative advantage. The work of the council addresses for the first time the systemic lack of data and analysis needed to propel the cooperative movement forward.

Lisa Mensah, left, moderates a panel that included Annie Donovan, Director of the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) Fund.An inspiring panel moderated by Lisa Mensah, president and CEO of Opportunity Finance Network and former Under Secretary of Rural Development for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, explored how financing institutions are responding to the evolving needs of cooperatives and working with partners to shape the co-op ecosystem.

A keynote from Vern Dosch, president and CEO of National Information Solutions Cooperative, rallied the cooperative movement to embrace and advance its role as a pioneer in forging a more peaceful, innovative and inclusive society.

During a reception at REI’s spacious flagship store in the NoMa neighborhood of Washington, D.C., Cooperatives for a Better World launched their new #Coops4Kindness campaign. Howard Brodsky of CCA Global Partners, Lance Rantala of Blue Hawk Cooperative, Robynn Shrader of National Co+op Grocers and Jerry McGeorge of Organic Valley each pledged their participation in CBW’s 2018 #Coops4Kindness campaign. Learn more and pledge your support at Already, more than 26,000 pledges have been made!

In the coming weeks, NCBA CLUSA will be covering the plenary sessions of IMPACT 2017. This week’s highlight takes a closer look at “The State of the Co-op Economy,” featuring new research from Brent Hueth and the University of Wisconsin’s Center for Cooperatives.

Other highlights will amplify the impactful contributions of our 40 speakers ranging from cooperative developers and financers to community and city leaders, innovators, economists and policymakers. Be sure to sign up for Co-op Weekly to get these updates delivered straight to your inbox!

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