How do start-up grocery co-ops like ours learn from experts and peers? The annual Up & Coming Food Co-op Conference is one of the many ways!
Chicago Market Board members were in Milwaukee two weekends ago alongside hundreds of other cooperators from around the country. We attended workshops led by pro co-op and business consultants and by our peers. And we are proud to say, we too shared info with other co-ops - our very own Lee Herman taught a workshop on the use of NationBuilder, our database and website tool.
What topics did we dig into and learn about?
- Capital campaign planning - Cooperative Principal #3 is Member Economic Participation, which includes both Owner share purchases (becoming an Owner) but also Owners making loans to the Co-op. This lets us, the members of the Co-op, control the capital. It's inspiring; it's your chance to invest in the community; and heads-up for Owners, our second capital campaign phase is coming this spring!
- Inclusion - There were numerous workshops on diversity and reducing bias in our industry and members of our Outreach & Inclusion team attended these and have already brought info back to the team.
- Finance and Key Indicators - In order to uphold our fiduciary responsibilities, we always attend workshops like these.
- Governance, volunteer recruiting, assessing the competition...the list is so long! We learned so much and are excited to bring it all back to your Co-op to ensure our success.
We learn from our peers and one of our favorite quotes from the conference came from Keith Nyitray, GM of the Sitka Food Co-op in Sitka, Alaska. Keith said the definition of a co-op is people "working together to solve a common problem." Remember, we're all working together! That's the magic of a cooperative like Chicago Market.
And a huge thank you to conference organizers Food Co-op Initiative and Indiana Cooperative Development Center!!!