The Cooperative Development Center brings resources and education to existing and developing cooperatives in Western Montana. Our center assists groups in:
What We Do
- Business and Strategic Planning
- Group Facilitation
- Legal Document Assistance
- Finding and Applying for Funding Assistance
- Operating or Capitalization Strategies
- Grant Writing Assistance
- Cooperative Revolving Loan Fund
- Professional Referrals
- Board Governance Training
The Cooperative Model
A cooperative is a private business owned by and operated for the benefit of the people who use its products and services.
Cooperatives are created by people who have identified a SHARED NEED. The organizers of a co-op work together to start and operate a company to meet that need.
Some cooperatives are owned by consumers or customers, while others are owned by farmers, agricultural producers, artists, or tenants. Another form of cooperatives, worker cooperatives, are owned and governed by the employees of the company.
People who use or work for the cooperative own their co-op because they finance it in a variety of ways. They SHARE OWNERSHIP in both the business risks and the business profits. Each cooperative determines the level of financial participation that is required to establish membership status in the co-op.
Cooperatives are governed democratically by the members. Cooperatives operate on a one-member, one-vote basis—each member is entitled to one vote.
The membership of the co-op elects a board of directors who SHARE in the GOVERNANCE the cooperative. They make important decisions such as hiring management personnel on behalf of the general membership.
Members SHARE in the BENEFITS of the cooperative because they have access to the products and services that they need. In addition, all or part of a cooperative’s net operating profits may be distributed proportionately, based on each member’s use, or patronage, of the co-op.
In a worker cooperative, the worker-members benefit from secure employment and the opportunity to use democratic decision making to manage the company.