Interested in forming a cooperative, but aren't sure where to start? Forming a new cooperative involves assessing the purpose of the cooperative, identifying start-up members and directors, developing articles of incorporation and by-laws, and filing the proper documentation, among other steps.
The CFAES Center for Cooperatives provides counseling and assistance through the entire formation process for those interested in forming a new cooperative. The Centers' specialists have assisted numerous cooperatives through this process since its inception in the early 2000s.
Member education and development
As owners, members have unique roles and responsibilities under the cooperative model; the cooperative exists and operates for their benefit. Ensuring that members understand the cooperative model and their unique roles can help ensure success.
While considering a cooperative's specific needs, The CFAES Center for Cooperatives offers assistance with member education, membership drives, and application development.
State statutes require cooperatives to develop and adopt bylaws that act as the guiding document regarding the cooperative's governance.
The CFAES Center for Cooperatives offers assistance with bylaw development for new cooperatives according to the needs of the client, ranging from development workshops to consultation services.
Board training and consultation
The board of directors, elected by and from the co-op's membership, serve to direct and oversee the cooperative. Their responsibilities as both members and directors are unique and their contribution to the cooperative's governance is vital.
The CFAES Center for Cooperatives offers trainings to help directors understand their roles and responsibilities under the cooperative model, as well as consultation with boards regarding board/management relationships and other needs. Role of the Cooperative Director
Ensuring the success of a cooperative often begins with ensuring a need for the cooperative. Feasibility studies and activities, such as potential member surveys and stakeholder meetings, can help determine the need for a new cooperative.
The CFAES Center for Cooperatives offers feasibility study assistance and consultation in conjunction with specialists with the Business Development Network at the OSU South Centers. In certain cases, The CFAES Center for Cooperatives may be available to develop and carry out full feasibility studies on a for-fee basis.
Business plan assistance
A cooperative's business plan serves as a road map outlining the who, what, where, when and how of your business. The document can be vital for assessing your business's current situation and planning for the future.
The CFAES Center for Cooperatives, along with specialists from the Business Development Network at the OSU South Centers, provides no-charge, confidential assistance and counseling for business planning. In certain cases, The CFAES Center for Cooperatives may be available to develop and complete business plans on a for-fee basis.
Strategic plan development
Strategic planning involves assessing the cooperative’s mission and resources to develop goals and action plans. The process aids in understanding the cooperative's current situation and future plans and encourages effective communication among directors, managers, employees, and members.
The CFAES Center for Cooperatives offers strategic plan development training for new and existing cooperatives as well as consultation regarding strategic plan updating or revision for existing cooperatives.
Policies act as guidelines for cooperative decision-making. Developing a formal policy document can set clear expectations for the cooperative's operation, enabling effective communication and working relationships among staff, managers and the board of directors.
The CFAES Center for Cooperatives offers consultation and individually developed services to cooperatives as they work to develop formal policy documents.
The CFAES Center for Cooperatives works alongside and maintains relationships with many institutions and organizations working in the areas of cooperatives, rural development and agriculture including The Ohio State University and West Virginia University Extension Services, the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, the Mid-America Cooperative Council, CoBank, USDA Rural Development, and many others.
Through these networks, The CFAES Center for Cooperatives can provide linkages to financial and funding resources, professional service providers such as attorneys and accountants, and technical service and educational providers.