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An opportunity for steering committees, boards and members of emerging and recently opened consumer food co-ops, buying clubs and farmer owned retail stores in New York and New England to learn best business and organization practices from established co-ops, cooperative development specialists and financiers.

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Ended Free $0.00
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Share It Takes Cooperation to Build a Food Co-op

Event Details

We have closed ticket sales for logistical purposes -- but if you still want to register, give us a call or send us an email! 413-665-1271 x5, You can also register on the day of the event for an extra $10.

It Takes Cooperation to Build a Food Co-op: Conference, Monday, May 23

Proposed Schedule:

8:30-9:30 Refreshments, registration & exhibits

8:00 - 9:15: optional walking tour to Green Fields Market, 144 Main Street -- meet at Arts Block at 8 or Green Fields Market by 8:15.

9:30-10:00 Welcome



Break & exhibits


Theme 1: Money & Numbers

Theme 2:
Co-op Experience

Theme 3:
Nitty Gritty: Parts of the Whole

10:15-11:15 Workshops Session I





Break & exhibits

11:30-12:30 Workshops Session II




12:30-1:30 Lunch, exhibits -- topic tables

food from a local food co-op (Green Fields Market)

4 topics (so far)

1:30-2:30 Workshops Session III





Break & exhibits

2:45-3:45 Workshops Session IV





Break & exhibits

4:00-5:00 prob-solving roundtables w/speakers

"Let's get specific." Speakers address attendees' particular questions that could not be addressed during workshops.

5:00 Closing Reception

A chance to continue networking and socializing before heading home.

6:00 pm - 7:15 optional walking tour to Green Fields Market, 144 Main Street


Workshop and lunchtime topic descriptions:

10:15-11:15 Workshops Session I

I-1: The Financial Side of Starting a Co-op: By the Numbers (part 1 of 2)
Presenters: Stuart Reid and Jake Schlachter, Food Co-op Initiative
Get a handle on the financial side of starting a co-op. Learn how to use a Sources & Uses budget, how to project future financial performance, and how to structure your capital goals.


I-2: Build It and (Make Sure) They Will Shop
Presenters: Tony White, Co-op Food Stores of NH & VT, Ed King, Littleton Food Co-op [to be confirmed] Marketing and outreach to create a committed member-owner shopper base and maintain enthusiasm leading up to opening day and beyond.


I-3: Membership is Ownership
Presenter: Marilyn Scholl, CDS Consulting Co-op
From start up campaigns, equity and loans to member benefits and patronage dividends, we'll discuss the critical role of members as owners of the cooperative.


11:30-12:30 Workshops Session II

II-1: Raising Capital
: Glen Ohlund, Cooperative Fund of New England, Jon Reske, UMass Five College Federal Credit Union, TBD, USDA
Lynda Brushett, Cooperative Development Institute
Leveraging Grants and Loans from Non-member Sources. An overview of various government and private funding programs and options.


II-2: After the Doors Opened: Lessons Learned from Recently Opened Start-Ups 
Participants:  Ellen Anthony, Staff, Fiddleheads Natural Foods Co-op (CT); Alane Hohenberg, Board President, Troy Community Food Co-op (NY); Ed King, General Manager, Littleton Food Co-op (NH); and Rochelle Prunty, General Manager, River Valley Co-op Market (MA).
Moderator: Erbin Crowell, Executive Director, Neighboring Food Co-op Association
Food co-ops that have recently opened their doors will share lessons learned and offer advice for new start-up efforts.  What factors were crucial to success?  What could they have done better?  What were some challenges and how were they overcome?  Food co-op managers and board members will share their perspectives and help start-up efforts avoid some of the potential pitfalls along the way to launching a successful food co-op.


II-3: Products and Services to Meet Member Needs
: Mel Braverman, CDS Consulting Co-op
Turning marketing research into decisions about departments, space and sales estimates. What start-up departments? What start-up inventory? How to decide?


12:30-1:30 Lunch Topic Tables

Table A: Co-ops & Low-Income Communities
: Kalista Aird, Cooperative Fund of New England
Food co-ops have been powerful examples of community ownership and leaders in the development of healthy food systems.  How can the food co-op model empower low-income communities and develop access to healthy, affordable food and ownership opportunities?  What are some strategies for success?


Table B: Cross Sector Collaboration
: Erbin Crowell, Neighboring Food Co-op Association
How can co-ops work together across sectors to support successful start-up efforts for community food co-ops?   Looking forward, how can food co-ops, worker co-ops, credit unions and producer co-ops collaborate in building stronger, more vibrant, and co-operative regional economies.


Table C: International Year of Cooperatives Strategy
: Eric DeLuca, National Cooperative Business Association
The United Nations has provided the international cooperative economy with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to showcase the innovative cooperative business model. 2012 will be the International Year of Cooperatives (IYC), in recognition that cooperative enterprises build a better world. What’s happening around the world and in your backyard in celebration of IYC? Talk US strategy development with IYC program manager Eric DeLuca, from the National Cooperative Business Association. Learn about the regional network activation strategy designed to support strengthened cooperative economies in 2012 and beyond. Get in the loop on the social media strategy being developed collaboratively by NCBA, Co-ops UK, and the Canadian Co-operative Association. IYC will not be complete without you—join the conversation!


Table D: Get the 411 on 401(k) and 403(b) plans
: Rob Thomas, Social(k)
When to offer one.  What are the options?  Plan design questions.  What funds can I offer? Join Social(k) Founder and President, Rob Thomas, for lunch and find out why a dozen co-ops have picked Social(k) for their retirement plan.


1:30-2:30 Workshops Session III

III-1: The Financial Side of Starting a Co-op: Paying for Organizing (part 2 of 2)
Presenters: Stuart Reid and Jake Schlachter, Food Co-op Initiative
The old saying is, “It takes money to make money.” How can your volunteer organizing team raise enough money to get help when you need it, pay consultants, or even hire a project manager? We will discuss typical and innovative ways of raising money, including on-line sales, promotional merchandise, grant opportunities and more.



III-2: Managing the Co-op
: Alex Gyori, Brattleboro Food Co-op (VT); Marilyn Scholl, CDS Consulting Co-op; TBA, Franklin Community Co-op (Green Fields Co-op Market & McCusker's Co-op Market, MA); and Richard Virgin, Fiddleheads Natural Foods Co-op (CT)
: Erbin Crowell, Neighboring Food Co-op Association
How the food co-op will be managed and staffed as it opens its doors is a critical question in the start-up process.  Our panel will discuss various approaches to ensuring successful management, including advice on policies, processes and structures.  We will provide participants with basic background on priorities, a range of structural options, and sources of support that can help them ensure sound management for a successful start-up.


III-3: The Changing Role of Governance for Start-ups
: Mark Goehring, CDS Consulting Co-op
Responsibilities of the Steering Committee and Board of Directors as the co-op evolves from vision to reality.


2:45-3:45 Workshops Session IV

IV-1: Operating and Financial Indicators and Benchmarks
: Mel Braverman, CDS Consulting Co-op
How to use indicators such as gross margin, department margins, sales per square foot, linear feet of display areas, inventory turns, labor costs, occupancy costs and other measures of profitability and productivity; managing by margins. 


IV-2: Organizing Tools and Techniques for New Food Co-ops
: Jake Schlachter, Stone’s Throw Market
Recruiting new members to your co-op has a lot in common with grassroots organizing and non-profit fundraising.  Learn about the tools available to simplify your work, and techniques for marketing your co-op effectively, raising funds, recruiting new members to the cause, and (of course) training the folks back home.


IV-3: Starting and Operating a Co-op: A Legal Perspective
: Jason Happel, Sullivan & Clark and Adam Prizio, Law for Food
This panel will address legal issues that are of interest to co-op founders, directors, and members. Panelists will identify the basic legal questions involved in starting a cooperative, and will give examples of what co-ops have done to creatively solve some of the practical problems that co-ops face. We will talk about the laws that regulate co-ops; governance and Board responsibilities; how to finance an acquisition or capital improvement; and the employment of members and other workers.

When & Where

The Arts Block
289 Main St
Greenfield, MA 01301

Monday, May 23, 2011 from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM (EDT)

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Cooperative Development Institute, Food Co-op Initiative, CDS Consulting Co-op, National Cooperative Grocers Association, and Neighboring Food Co-op Association

Cooperative Development Institute is the Northeast's center for cooperative business education, training and technical assistance. CDI provides these services to existing and start-up cooperatively-structured enterprises in all business sectors: food, housing, energy, agriculture, arts, health, forestry, fisheries, retail, service and more.

Food Co-op Initiative is a non-profit foundation that was created to provide resources and support for communities that want to start new food co-ops. FCI can offer you support, referrals, and access to training material so that you will have the best chance for a creating a successful co-op or buying club.

CDS Consulting Co-op is dedicated to building and strengthening cooperative businesses. Its consultants specialize in working with food cooperatives to achieve growth, increase profitability, improve board leadership, strengthen management, and fully serve their members and community.

National Cooperative Grocers Association (NCGA) is a business services cooperative for natural food co-ops located throughout the United States. NCGA helps unify natural food co-ops in order to optimize operational and marketing resources, strengthen purchasing power, and ultimately offer more value to natural food co-op owners and shoppers everywhere.

Neighboring Food Co-op Association is a network of food co-ops committed to a shared vision of a thriving regional economy, rooted in a healthy, just and sustainable food system and collaboration among co-ops. It includes more than 20 food co-ops in VT, NH, MA and CT.

  Contact the Organizer

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