Archive Hosted by the AFL-CIO

Cooperatively Moving Minnesota Forward

April 12, 2011 By Lee Egerstrom, Economic Development Fellow

Download full report (pdf)
View online at Scribd

Minnesota leads the nation in cooperative business development, with at least 1,016 Minnesota-based co-ops accounting for nearly 42,000 jobs and $1.5 billion in wages. Growing out of their agriculture roots, co-ops have developed into sustainable business models for the state’s entrepreneurs, workers, and consumers. They cross 16 industrial sectors from farming and biofuels to insurance and banking to education and daycare, according to University of Wisconsin figures.

At a time when Minnesota has fallen to 48th in entrepreneurs per capita and is trying to rebound from an economic downturn, we must look for tested business development tools to help start-ups grow.

Midwest farmers started growing the co-op model during the late 1800s to overcome market imperfections, such as lack of access to transportation routes, capital, marketing and equipment. Since then, co-ops helped build wealth, stabilize employment and sustain economic development on the country side. In farm terms, co-ops have matured into a ‘commodity’ that’s ready for harvesting and wide scale use.

An international study shows co-ops have a 64 percent five-year survival rate compared to 36 percent for other types of companies.

Today, both agricultural and non-agricultural groups starting as co-ops have distinct advantages over individuals trying to start up as a traditional business model. A co-op’s power helps achieve better economies of scale and provides wider purchasing power for members. Customers tend to be members, giving the co-op better access to buyer habits and needs.



Thanks for participating! Commenting on this conversation is now closed.


  • Bernice Vetsch says:

    April 12, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    And coops can be comprised of a fairly large bunch of people capable of making a modest investment of money and a larger investment of self toward the success of their shared venture.

  • Mike Downing says:

    January 19, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    Benice, Dan, Paul, etc.:

    The following is a great “divorce agreement” between you liberal progressives and us conservative constitutionalists. It takes an educated law student to state the truth between our two sides.:

    Dear American liberals, leftists, social progressives, socialists, regressive, Marxists, and Obama supporters, et. al.:

    We have stuck together since the late 1950s for the sake of the kids, but the whole of this latest election process has made me realize that I want a divorce. I know we tolerated each other for many years for the sake of future generations, but sadly, this relationship has clearly run its course.

    Our two ideological sides of America cannot and will not ever agree on what is right for us all, so let’s just end it on friendly terms. We can smile and chalk it up to irreconcilable differences and go our own way.

    Here is a model separation agreement:

    1. Our two groups can equitably divide up the country by land mass, each taking a similar portion. That will be the difficult part, but I am sure our two sides can come to a friendly agreement. After that, it should be relatively easy. Our respective representatives can effortlessly divide other assets since both sides had such distinct and disparate tastes.

    2. We don’t like redistributive taxes, so you can keep them.

    3. You are welcome to the liberal judges and the ACLU.

    4. Since you hate guns and war, we’ll take our firearms, the cops, the NRA, and the military.

    5. We’ll take the nasty, smelly oil industry and you can go with wind, solar, and bio-diesel.

    6. You can keep Oprah, Michael Moore, and Rosie O’Donnell. You are, however, responsible for finding a bio-diesel vehicle big enough to move all three of them.

    7. We’ll keep capitalism, greedy corporations, pharmaceutical companies, Wal-Mart, and Wall Street.

    8. You can have your beloved lifelong welfare dwellers, food stamps, homeless homeboys, hippies, druggies, and illegal aliens.

    9. We’ll keep the hot Alaskan hockey moms, greedy CEO’s and rednecks.

    10. We’ll keep the Bibles and give you NBC and Hollywood .

    11. You can make nice with Iran and Palestine and we’ll retain the right to invade and hammer places that threaten us.

    12. You can have the peace-niks and war protesters. When our allies or our way of life are under assault, we’ll help provide them security.

    13. We’ll keep our Judeo-Christian values.

    14. You are welcome to Islam, Scientology, Humanism, political correctness, and Shirley McLain. You can also have the U.N., but we will no longer be paying the bill.

    15. We’ll keep the SUV’s, pickup trucks, and oversized luxury cars. You can take every Subaru station wagon you can find.

    16. You can give everyone healthcare if you can find any practicing doctors..

    17. We’ll continue to believe healthcare is an earned luxury and not a right.

    18. We’ll keep “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” and “The National Anthem.”

    19. I’m sure you’ll be happy to substitute “Imagine”, “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing”, “Kum Ba Ya,” or “We Are the World”.

    20. We’ll practice trickledown economics and you can continue to give trickle up poverty your best shot.

    21. Since it often so offends you, we’ll keep our history, our name and our constitution and our flag.

    22. Would you agree to this? If so, please pass it along to other like-minded liberal and conservative patriots and if you do not agree, just hit delete. In the spirit of friendly parting, I’ll bet you answer which one of us will need whose help in 15 years.

    John J. Wall
    Law Student and an American

    P.S.: Also, please take Ted Turner, Sean Penn, Martin Sheen, Barbara Streisand, and Jane Fonda with you.

    P.S.S..: And you won’t have to “Press 1 for English” when you call our country.