More than 100 people interested in how cooperative businesses can help move the Central Texas economy toward shared abundance and prosperity, came together at the second annual Austin Cooperative Summit brought by the Austin Cooperative Business Association and NCBA CLUSA.
“The summit identified opportunities to expand the cooperative economy here in Central Texas and showcased many of the cooperative businesses thriving in our region,” said Brian Donovan, Executive Director of the Austin Cooperative Business Association. “The feedback has been really positive and we are already thinking about how it can be even better next year.”
The opening reception included presentations from NCBA CLUSA CEO, Mike Beall, Texas Electric Cooperatives CEO, Mike Williams, and Executive VP of the National Coop Bank, Steven Brookner, talking about their experience in the cooperative movement and the value their organizations bring to members and the communities they serve. During the evening reception, many cooperatives shared their work and products including: Equal Exchange, Wheatsville Food Co-op, Black Star Co-op, Cooperation Texas, Red Rabbit Cooperative Bakery, KOOP Radio, Artists Screen Printing Cooperative, Amplify Credit Union, and Community Housing Expansion of Austin.
Throughout the conference, presentations featured information about cooperatives in the food system, an introduction to the many types of cooperatives and resources available to help them start and expand in Texas. The keynote presentation was by Dr. John Park, the Roy G. Davis Chair at Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. In his presentation, Dr. Park explained the way our food system works and the important role cooperatives play to bring food from farms to our tables. A panel discussion about opportunities for cooperatives in the local food movement identified many ways cooperatives could provide solutions to get fresh local food to consumers in Central Texas.
“It’s great to see such a dedicated group of cooperators, listening and learning from one another,” said Mike Beall, president and CEO of NCBA CLUSA. “The ACBA is providing much needed support for local cooperatives, working to grow and expand their businesses. NCBA CLUSA is proud to have them as a partner and is dedicated to supporting cooperative businesses in Austin and around the country.”
The summit culminated with an excellent dinner at the Sustainable Food Center prepared by Black Star chef, Johnny Livesay. All who attended met the dinner with rave reviews. For more information on the Austin Cooperative Business Association visit www.ACBA.coop.