Letter from Rep. Danou: October is Cooperative MonthSince 1964, the month of October is annually recognized as “Cooperative Month” throughout the nation.
By: Rep. Chris Danou , Pierce County Herald
Since 1964, the month of October is annually recognized as “Cooperative Month” throughout the nation. This is a time for cooperatives, or "co-ops" and their members make a conscious effort to educate the public about the member-owned and member-controlled business model they operate under.
As you may already know, cooperatives are a self-sufficient association of people who voluntarily cooperate for their mutual social, economic and cultural benefit. Co-ops contribute about $8.6 billion annually in revenue and employ about 19,000 people in Wisconsin with many types of co-ops in our area.
When big businesses decided it wasn’t worth their time or financial resources to include our area in their business plan, local businesses joined forces to make sure rural areas had the same services of urban communities. It’s easy to find a cooperative in Western Wisconsin and chances are they touch just about every family in our community.
Co-ops market and supply agricultural products as well as provide food products, health care, housing, credit union services, insurance, energy, telephone and telecommunications and electric services. Co-ops not only provide quality products and services at an affordable price, but they also make significant contributions to the community through economic development, scholarships, education programs, grants and local aid to other members in a time of need from natural disasters.
This year cooperatives have been celebrating the International Year of Cooperatives. This was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly to recognize the diversity of the cooperative movement around the world and the role of cooperative business model in achieving economic viability while also contributing community and social benefits.
Here in Wisconsin, co-ops are highlighting their theme, “Cooperatives Build a Better World,” by reminding people of the values that set cooperatives apart from for-profit businesses. The Cooperative Network, the largest statewide association of its kind that brings cooperatives together from Wisconsin and Minnesota, has a display in the rotunda of the State Capitol that highlights the principles and values that guide cooperatives in their day-to-day operations. These include having a voluntary and open membership, democratic member control, member economic participation, autonomy and independence, education training and information, co-operation among co-operatives and concern for the community.
Last week, I had the privilege to present an official citation of commendation from the Wisconsin State Legislature to Jackson Electric Cooperative, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. Over the past 75 years Jackson Electric Co-op has exemplified values of the cooperative. It has made electric energy available to its members at the lowest cost consistent with sound economy and good management and has been able to adapt to increased demands for rural electricity in Jackson and surrounding counties.
Jackson Electric, like so many other cooperatives in our community, have dedicated themselves to providing quality products and services and will continue to play a significant role in the well-being of our community. I firmly believe the cooperative way of business is the people’s way of business because it brings people together under a common mission, encourages cooperation and is mutually beneficial for the members and the community.