The University of Wisconsin- Madison Center for Cooperatives (UWCC) has created a National Cooperative Resource Ecosystem Map designed for cooperative and economic developers or groups looking to start their own cooperative. The interactive map provides a comprehensive overview of the resources available within the national cooperative landscape. The map also offers users the ability to explore cooperative development resources as well as downloadable PDF lists of the following cooperative resources at the national, regional, and state level.
Through robust research to identify the major factors that are critical to starting new cooperatives, UW Center for Cooperatives staff identified the following factors as vital to ensure successful cooperative start-ups:
- Cooperative Development Organizations provide assistance that encompasses both business development and member support and education.
- Cooperative Associations provide a range of services to their members including but not limited to education, advocacy, and thought leadership.
- Co-op Friendly Capital – These financing organizations are familiar with the unique characteristics of cooperative businesses and offer loan assistance or grant funding to cooperatives.
- Statutes – Cooperative incorporation statutes can vary significantly by state. The statute information is from the USDA’s Cooperative Statute Project, which is an ongoing effort to compile a comprehensive review of state cooperative statutes.
- Legal Support – Attorneys who specialist in working with cooperatives (forthcoming).
These tools are an outcome of a broader U.S. Department of Agriculture AFRI-funded project called “Collective Action in Rural Communities: Mapping Opportunities for Cooperative Conversion and Start-up.” More information about the project can be found here.