Obtain products or services otherwise unavailable – Cooperatives often provide services or products that would not attract other private businesses.
Oregon: Members of Blue Water Harvesters Cooperative in Port Oxford harvest sea urchins. They depended on several private firms to extract and clear package “roe” for export to Japan. In recent years, all of these firms ceased operations. The watermen were left without a processing facility. So, the cooperative purchased a processing facility which enabled members to continue their livelihood through cooperative action.
Michigan: Frankfort is a small city of 1,500 on the shores of Lake Michigan. Many older residents wanted the comfort and convenience of retirement living, but didn’t want to leave the area. Initially, 54 couples moved into an especially designed, new elderly housing cooperative close to the center of the community. The new cooperative is the latest example of an emerging trend in providing affordable senior citizen housing facilities that are ideally suited to small rural communities.
Flexible manufacturing networks-These are a mechanism for small manufacturing enterprises in local geographical areas. By joining under a cooperative umbrella, members achieve certain shared objectives that might be otherwise impossible to achieve on their own. Through networks, members share costs for market research, environmental compliance, or technical training for employees. Joint production development and market penetration are also feasible objectives.
Farm Credit System – This nationwide network of cooperative lending institutions provides credit and financially related services to farmers, ranchers, and their cooperatives. In existence for more than 75 years, the System is the largest provider of agricultural credit in the United States. The System specializes in low-cost financing for agricultural enterprises and rural utilities. Its expertise is unequaled by any other lender.
Obtain market access or broaden market opportunities-Value is added to products by processing or offering larger quantities of an assured type and quality to attract more buyers.
Franchise Purchasing Cooperatives– Individually owned units are organized to gain economy of scale in purchasing goods and services. Some have formed insurance companies, established leasing programs, or developed financing programs for members’ equipment. Benefits are derived not only from savings through group purchasing, but also from sharing earnings based on each member’s business volume with the cooperative.
Reduce Cost/Increase Income – Reducing the cooperative’s operating costs increases the amount of earnings available for distribution to members to boost their income.
Missouri: Glasgow Cooperative, Inc., was organized in 1923 as a farm supply purchasing association. It serves farmers in a 15-mile radius of Glasgow. In its 70-year history, it has returned nearly 8 percent of the gross sales in patronage back to the members. The cooperative also has an excellent history of revolving member equities. Both activities have reduced the cost of providing farm supplies to the members.