New Study: A Manual for Multi-Stakeholder Cooperatives

Food co-ops typically have hundreds or thousands of consumer owners. But there can be other stakeholders, and a number of food cooperatives, including both new and established businesses, share governance and membership with workers, producers, and community supporters.

Although little noticed, we have a growing body of experience and support for these multi-stakeholder cooperatives. Much of this is captured in a fascinating new study, “Solidarity as a Business Model: A Multi-Stakeholder Cooperatives Manual,” that is available online as a 74-page pdf from the Ohio Employee Ownership Center at Kent State University: http://www.oeockent.org (find it under the sidebar for "NEWS").

The study’s primary author, Margaret Lund, was assisted by people in several U.S. and Canadian cooperatives and institutions. Fully half of the dozen case studies focus on co-ops in the food sector, including international and U.S. examples such as these:
*Weaver Street Market (Carrboro, N.C.) – a strongly successful worker/consumer hybrid
*Producers & Buyers Co-op (Eau Claire, Wis.) – supplying local food to hospital food service departments
*Oklahoma Food Co-op – a preorder, online operation for consumers and producers
*Fifth Season Cooperative (Viroqua, Wis.) – a unique model aimed at strengthening the local food system in southwest Wisconsin, with six member classes spanning the entire supply chain.

The Cooperative Development Center at Kent State, the publisher, was supported in this project by funding from a USDA Rural Cooperative Development Grant program and the Cooperative Foundation.

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