Cooperatives, or co-ops, have played a critical role in the success of various industries in the United States for many years. It is important for current and potential business owners to understand the success of cooperatives in the United States. Cooperatives offer jobs in a wide range of industries including agriculture, banking, childcare, and utilities.
Success of cooperatives in the United States
There are several key reasons behind the success of the cooperative business model. Many cooperatives provide goods and services to less profitable areas that traditional businesses often don’t reach. Cooperative businesses invest in numerous local communities and attract local membership, allowing profits to remain within a given community. Purchasing co-ops gives small, local organizations a leg up to complete with their larger national and international competitors. Cooperative membership even cultivates and strengthens social networks.
There are nearly 30,000 cooperatives in the United States, excluding housing co-ops. There are 350 million co-op memberships in the United States. The cooperatives in America generate more than 850,000 jobs and $650 billion in annual revenue.
Agriculture cooperatives in the United States
The National Council of Farmer Cooperatives (NCFC) has been representing farmer cp-ops in the United States since 1929. Most of the two million farmers and ranchers in America belong to one or more farmer cooperatives. The NCFC co-op alone has nearly 3,000 local farmer cooperative members, as well as 26 state and regional co-op councils. Farmer cooperatives provide more than 250,000 jobs with a combined annual salary of over $8 billion. Farmer co-ops handle, process, and market agricultural commodities. These cooperatives also furnish farm supplies and offer credit and related financial services.
Credit union cooperatives in the United States
The United States is home to 7,100 credit unions. In addition to being a co-op, a credit union is also a non-profit and tax exempt. To get credit union membership, you must be part of a particular group, like a resident of a rural district or an enrolled student at a specific university. United States credit unions may be chartered by a state government or the federal government. There are 94.3 million credit union members in the United States. These members make up 43.7 percent of the economically active population. American credit unions generate $1.02 trillion annually.
Childcare cooperatives in the United States
Cooperative preschools and daycare programs have been an integral part of the education system in the United States for the last hundred years. In 1916, a group of University of Chicago faculty wives founded the first co-op preschool. The program gave the mothers the flexibility to work at Red Cross while their children had opportunities to socialize. The first national preschool co-op organization was formed in 1960. Today, this co-op organization represents over 50,000 families and teachers.
Utility cooperatives in the United States
Utility co-ops provide public utilities to their members including water, electricity, and telecommunication. These cooperatives primarily exist in rural areas to cover regions that larger companies do not reach. The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) represents more than 900 American electric co-ops. Currently, electric cooperatives serve over 10 percent of the United State’s population and own 42 percent of the distribution lines.
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