Co-operative Businesses

Convened by Richard Thomas
In attendance - Fred Cervin, Terry Halwes, Justin, Jaz, Marie, myself, Claudette, I think Roger popped in. Some others.

People came to this with a variety of backgrounds and interests.

The Mill River Valley Farm has incorporated into a co-operative CSA. Others came to the discussion with experience in co-operative living, food co-ops and buying clubs.
Different CT statutes were discussed. Co-op Associations, Marketing co-ops and worker owned co-operatives fall under CT law concerning co-ops. Worker owned co-ops have a definite set of regulations while a Co-op Association is under less specific rules. A membership co-op allows equity through member shares that are a one-time investment.

Willimantic Co-op has a yearly fee.

Co-operatives are S corporations that yield negligible profits. Some states are looking into C corporations that are dedicated to the common good.
Two types of co-ops - consumers & producers. Co-ops are a legitimate alternative way to organize business, but have difficulty getting loans.

Idea: Producer Co-ops working with Consumer co-ops in shared space for mutual benefit.

Unlike for-profit corporations, people buy single shares of a co-operative allowing all to have equal interest. Stock corps can have a majority owner who can take over the business.

Concern: How to peacefully resolve conflicts
Green Haven co-housing uses formal consensus (all agree on issues before decision made)

Idea: Co-operative space that offers many types of consumer goods. Strengthen local businesses.
Idea: Small business networks with co-operation among competitors in the same industry.

Buyers association - support local businesses and enhance local marketplace.
Creating an economy of scale.

Great potential for co-ops to keep externalized costs low. Shared values are built into concept.
Alternative to capitalism? Consumer centered capitalism: customer benefit, community values, sustainability. Capitalism = accumulation :: Co-operative = equal exchange.

Family values, commitment to community, time inputs involved in belonging, relationships formed in the interest of economic partnerships.

Flea markets, salvage economy, trash = treasure.
Some talk of discovering which life necessities are locally produced, supporting those businesses, encouraging more (as co-op idea).

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