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Cooperative Network

Contact: Jenny Bernhardt
Director of Communications


October 1, 2013

St. Norbert Poll Reveals
Strong Consumer Preference for Cooperatives
Wis. and Minn. Governors Declare October as Co-op Month

MADISON, Wis. (Oct. 1, 2013) — A St. Norbert College Strategic Research Institute survey commissioned by Cooperative Network has revealed that, based on past experience, 74 percent of consumers in Minnesota and Wisconsin prefer to do business with cooperatives over investor-owned businesses. In their proclamations declaring October “Co-op Month,” which is an annual celebration, Wis. Gov. Scott Walker and Minn. Gov. Mark Dayton both recognized cooperatives’ significant contributions to their states’ economies.

Wisconsin was one of the first states to enact a law authorizing cooperatives in 1887. Walker noted in his Co-op Month proclamation: “Cooperatives play a major role in Wisconsin’s economy, annually recording about $8.6 billion in revenue, employing approximately 19,000 Wisconsin residents and paying nearly $780 million in wages and benefits each year.”

Dayton echoed the impact of cooperatives in Minnesota, citing that Minnesota is the leading state both in the number of cooperative businesses and members: “3.4 million cooperative members in the Gopher State currently depend on approximately 1,000 co-ops to market and supply agricultural products as well as to provide credit, financing, electricity, transportation, health care, food, housing, insurance, and many other products and services.” Minnesota co-ops annually generate about $34 billion in revenue and employ approximately 46,000 Minnesota residents.

Cooperative Network’s 2013 co-op study was funded by CHS Inc., the nation’s leading global agribusiness owned by farmers, ranchers and co-ops across the United States. In the study, St. Norbert College Strategic Research Institute randomly polled 400 people in Minnesota and Wisconsin about their opinions and use of cooperatives and contrasted results to a comparable study performed in 2007, prior to the U.S. financial crisis. This year’s results revealed that nearly three of every four (74 percent) respondents who indicated they were members of a cooperative said they were more likely to choose cooperatives over other businesses based on their past experiences, up from 71 percent in 2007.

Other notable findings included:

  • 47 percent of people indicated there was at least one family member who belonged to a co-op, compared to 36 percent in 2007.
  • 69 percent of people who ran a business within their home were also members of a co-op, statistically similar to 2007 results.
  • 18 percent of people associated the words "teamwork/collaboration" with "co-op" or "cooperative” — a correlation that did not appear in the 2007 study.

Oct. 1 marks the start of Co-op Month in the United States and throughout other parts of the world. In Minnesota and Wisconsin, cooperatives are expanding upon the theme, "Collaborate, Communicate, Cooperate," illustrating a proven, grassroots alternative for economic progress.

"Minnesota and Wisconsin have a rich cooperative history and are home to nearly 2,000 cooperative businesses — one of the highest concentrations in the U.S.,” said Bill Oemichen, president and CEO of Cooperative Network, which represents the interests of co-ops in both states and is the largest statewide cooperative association in the nation. “Communities in these states have formed more than 30 types of co-ops to care for our children, bring electricity to our homes, put wholesome food on our tables and so much more. It is appropriate that this year’s Co-op Month theme is ‘Collaborate, Communicate, Cooperate,’ three simple words that illustrate the bedrock of cooperative business.”

Cooperative Network will detail highlights of the 2013 co-op survey, including specific results related to health care, finance, telecommunications/electric, and consumer products, in a series of news releases throughout Co-op Month in October.

Co-op Month has been celebrated annually in the United States since 1964. Learn more about cooperative history and Co-op Month HERE.





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