National Co-op Month celebrates member ownership

Being part of a cooperative means being part of something special. Great River Energy is celebrating National Cooperative Month in October, along with 40,000 other cooperative businesses serving more than 120 million people nationwide.

“Great River Energy supports the seventh cooperative principle, concern for community,” said Jon Brekke, Great River Energy’s vice president and chief market officer. “In addition to providing electricity, we work with our membership to find ways to promote beneficial economic development.”

“Cooperatives Build” is the theme of this year’s National Cooperative Month.

Consider these ways that co-ops build:

Cooperatives build trust

Most co-ops strive to adhere to seven key cooperative principles, which combine to help build trust between the co-op, its members and the community.

For example, the first principle is voluntary and open membership, which means that cooperatives are voluntary organizations open to all people to use their services and willing to accept the responsibility of membership. The second principle, democratic member control, gives members a voice in the cooperative’s policies and decisions.

Through the fifth principle – education, training and information – cooperatives enable members to contribute to the development of the cooperative.

Cooperatives build community

The seventh cooperative principle is concern for community. Cooperatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through employee involvement in local organizations, through charitable contributions to community efforts and through support for schools.

For example, Great River Energy has two corporate contributions teams, one each in Minnesota and North Dakota. Each year these teams give out thousands of dollars to local nonprofits that do the greatest good for the greatest number of members and in the communities where the company has employees and facilities.

Cooperatives build jobs

Cooperatives generate jobs in their communities, keep profits local and pay local taxes to help support community services. Cooperatives often take part in community improvement programs, ensuring that everyone has an opportunity to benefit from the cooperative experience.

With the seven cooperative principles binding these unique and diverse businesses, co-ops truly do build a better world.