What is a Cooperative Development Center and why is KCARD one?

In addition to all of its work with farmers, agricultural businesses, and agricultural organizations, the Kentucky Center for Agriculture and Rural Development (KCARD) is also a cooperative development center, providing education, support, and advisory services to groups interested in forming cooperatives and to cooperatives who have already formed.  KCARD has served these needs in Kentucky since 2001 providing assistance to over 50 cooperatives and helping with the establishment of 27 cooperatives.    

Helping a group understand the basics of the cooperative business model and the key steps in developing a cooperative is often the first way KCARD can help.  KCARD can work with individuals who see the need for a cooperative in the formation stage to help them work through that vision and set the stage for future incorporation of the cooperative. 

Facilitating steering committee meetings for the cooperative and assisting with the development of a business plan and financial projections are roles that KCARD often plays in the development of cooperatives. KCARD has developed business plans and financial projections for hundreds of entities, each one tailored to the unique situation of the business but informed by decades of experience.  Additionally, KCARD has experience in performing feasibility studies for cooperatives.

Once a cooperative is up and running, KCARD continues to provide support.  Performing board trainings, looking at future growth, analyzing financial performance, and providing consultation on handling an unexpected issue are ways that KCARD assists existing cooperatives.  KCARD keeps up with current trends within the cooperative sector, including converting existing businesses to worker-owened cooperatives, the rise in interest in housing cooperatives, and the development of multi-stakeholder cooperatives. KCARD is part of a network of cooperative development centers across the country that it taps into to share information.

Guides to cooperative development and videos on how to go through the steps abound on the internet.  However, while those resources exist, having the collective knowledge of a cooperative development center, like KCARD, is vital in helping groups better understand the cooperative model and whether it fits the group’s needs.  Cooperative development centers also play a crucial role in facilitating the formation of a cooperative and supporting the cooperative once it begins operations.  

If your group is interested in forming a cooperative or if you just have questions on the cooperative business model, KCARD has the experience and ability to help you understand and work through the process. Contact us at kcard@kcard.info or at 859-550-3972.