The National Cooperative Development Act has been introduced into the US Congress, which could inject $25 million into support cooperatives across the country.
Introduced by Congressman Chaka Fattah, the Democratic representative for Pennsylvania, the Bill authorizes $25 million a year through 2016 to create and fund the National Cooperative Development Center.
The National Cooperative Development Center will:
• Award grants to nonprofit organizations, colleges, and universities so that they can provide technical assistance to operating cooperatives or groups that are attempting to form cooperatives;
• Provide guidance, information on best practices and technical assistance to communities seeking to establish cooperatives;
• Create a revolving loan fund to provide loans and seed capital to groups who are attempting to form cooperatives;
• Provide funding for training of providers of technical assistance and supporting existing professional development training for organizations engaged in cooperative development;
• Establish cooperative development centers in areas that currently do not have them.
Mr Fattah, who has represented Pennsylvania's 2nd district since 1995, pointed out that cooperatives still face many problems, including difficulty in gaining access to capital, which can stunt the growth of even the most successful enterprises.
In addition, he noted: "The unique nature of the cooperative ownership model requires that cooperative operators receive specialized training and assistance in setting up the governance, operations, and financial structures that are required to run a successful cooperative.
"Co-ops need help that the federal government will now be in a position to provide. The legislation addresses these problems by establishing the Development Center to provide capital, training, and other resources to foster cooperative development."
In the US, 29,000 cooperatives account for more than $3 trillion in assets, over $500 billion in total revenue, $25 billion in wages and benefits, 350 million memberships and 2 million jobs.