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October proclaimed Co-op Month in Kansas


Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback issued a proclamation on Sept. 22 recognizing October as Co-op Month in Kansas. The Kansas Cooperative Council and member-cooperatives across the state will join in the October celebration. Cooperatives will host events throughout the month highlighting the contributions which cooperative businesses bring to their members, customers and local communities.

Celebrating Co-op Month is a tradition that started in Minnesota in 1948 and has grown to be an annual national event. This year, Co-op Month recognition is part of a growing opportunity to share the cooperative message on an unprecedented scale with the designation of 2012 as the International Year of Cooperatives. The theme of the 2011 Co-op Month celebration and that of the International Year is the same: "Cooperative Enterprises Build a Better World." The theme reflects the contributions that cooperatives make to their members and communities.

Co-ops have the potential to foster economic development and build social capital. Cooperatives drive economic growth as local businesses that keep wealth in the community. Cooperatives also build a better world by providing the opportunity for people to practice real grassroots democracy. Co-ops are democratically controlled enterprises that exist to serve their members. Unlike most enterprises where control is tied to the level of investment, co-ops are governed on the basis of one member, one vote. So, as well as getting the products and services they need, members help shape the decisions their cooperative makes. And rather than rewarding outside investors, a cooperative shares its profits among the members.

But like other enterprises, cooperatives seek to trade successfully--they are businesses, not charities, after all. Members, such as farmers or hardware store owners, food aficionados or taxi drivers, can often do better working together. This mix of self-help and mutual aid has made cooperatives an international force for good. Across the United States, cooperatives are owned by more than 130 million people, and these numbers are growing. Worldwide, 100 million people are employed by cooperatives, while 800 million are members.

In the United States, cooperatives will celebrate Co-op Month throughout October. This year, Co-op Month is being coordinated with other events including Co-op Week, which is scheduled for Oct. 16 to 22 and International Credit Union Day on Oct. 20.

The Kansas Cooperative Council, headquartered in Topeka, Kan., is a statewide trade association representing all forms of cooperative businesses. Formed in 1944, the Council seeks to promote, support and advance the interests, business success and understanding of agricultural, utility, credit and consumer cooperatives and their members through legislation and regulatory efforts, education and public relations. For more information contact: Leslie Kaufman, president/CEO Kansas Cooperative Council at 785-220-4068 or leslie@kansasco-op.coop.

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