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About Us

The Nebraska Cooperative Development Center is Nebraska’s center for cooperative based business development. NCDC provides education, training, and technical assistance to cooperatively owned businesses, be it a cooperative, an LLC, or other business structure.We are committed to creating sustainable communities in Nebraska where people work together to meet their needs and reach their goals. Our center provides technical assistance, education, and training for developing and existing groups. Our services are available for all types of business enterprises.

For 20 years the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Nebraska Coop-erative Development Center (NCDC) has been working with start-up and established "multi-owner" businesses throughout the state. NCDC is Nebraska’s center for cooperative based business development. We help facilitate the formation of new business ventures and growth of existing businesses by providing technical assistance, training and education programs.

Cooperative businesses are unique because they are autonomous associations of people united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly owned and democratically controlled enterprise. NCDC works with groups who incorporated or have an interest in forming cooperatives, LLCs and other "multi-owner" businesses.

NCDC Brochure (revised 2016)

Mission Statement

Dedicated to assisting people prosper in rural areas by helping them work together through cooperative business development.


Nebraska Cooperative Development Center was created in 1998 through a USDA-RD Rural Cooperative Development Grant (RCDG). The grant was received by the Nebraska Community Foundation and written by the Nebraska Rural Development Commission (RDC). As Director of the RDC, Don Macke also became the first formal director of NCDC.

The RDC began a formal agreement with the Center for Rural Community Revitalization and Development (CRCRD) (Later to be called the Center for Applied Rural Innovation or CARI) in Fall of 1999 to make CRCRD the institutional home for NCDC. Through this agreement Dr. Sam Cordes, CRCRD Fellow, became director and they committed a .5 full-time employee position to NCDC to be supervised by Dr. Cordes.

The first NCDC Board of Directors meetings were held in September and December and of 1999 where they created the mission statement, goals, and organizational development of the program. The NCDC Management team consisted of Dr. Cordes, Jo Lowe, and Alan Corr (NCDC Board Chair, UNL Extension).

On September 17, 1999 the Nebraska Extension, USDA-RD, and RDC signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to provide funding “…to enhance cooperative development efforts in Nebraska”. USDA-RD and Nebraska Extension each contributed $25,000 and RDC contributed $5,000. This funding level was continued for a second year in July 2000. Through this commitment a full-time position and operating support (via the university Extension) was created for a cooperative development specialist. This position was advertised in January 2000 and Jim Crandall was hired April of 2000 as the first cooperative development specialist.

The formation, initial training, and certification of “NCDC First Responder” Network occurred in December 2000. This network consisted of 29 people across Nebraska, including at least one university Extension Educator in each of the five Extension Districts. The Network also consisted of: RC&D coordinators, USDA-RD staff, Nebraska Department of Economic Development Staff, Nebraska Dept. of Agriculture staff, and Center for Rural Affairs staff.  The UNL attendees were: Dave Aiken, Alan Baquet, John Allen, Sam Cordes, Jim Crandall, Tom Dorn, Charles Francis, Terry Gompert, Gerald Hopp, Lynn Lutgen, Dave McLaren, Ed O’Neill, Linda Price, Jim Schild, and Dave Stenberg.

In September 2001 the Nebraska Community Foundation was awarded a second USDA RCDG grant on behalf of NCDC. The director was Sam Cordes.

In 2002 NCDC added Shirley Lederers as an administrative assistant through an agreement with CARI by buying 25% of her time. (Staffing levels: Dr. Cordes .5 FTE, Jo Lowe (RDC) .5 FTE, Jim Crandall 1.0 FTE, Shirley Lederer, .25 FTE).

On April 1, 2002 NCDC became incorporated as a 501 (c) 6 with the initial principal office located in 58 Filley Hall, UNL East Campus. This incorporation was in response to the NCDC Board of Directors concerns regarding personal liability relating to disbursement of grant funds. Thus, the NCDC bylaws named the Nebraska Community Foundation as the repository for grant funds and to provide oversight and auditing of funds.

NCDC was awarded a third USDA RCDG grant in August 2002. This grant now supplied all of Jim Crandall’s salary, benefits, and support.

Dr. John Allen became the NCDC Executive Director on January 1, 2003, followed by Dr. Lynn Lutgen as NCDC Executive Director on July 15, 2003. In June of 2003 NCDC began paying Jo Lowe’s salary as RDC phased out, however RDC disbanded in August 2003 and Lowe resigned.

NCDC was awarded a fourth USDA RCDG grant in August 2003 under current director Lynn Lutgen. In December 2003 Elaine (Klaege) Cranford was hired as a temporary full-time cooperative development specialist (she had been a NCDC student intern in local food systems since October 2002). Cranford was hired as a permanent full-time cooperative development specialist in September 2004.

NCDC was awarded a fifth USDA RCDG grant in September 2004 under director Lynn Lutgen. In October 2004 NCDC added a .5 FTE position through a shared position agreement with the university Food Processing Center. Current staffing levels: Dr. Lutgen .5 FTE, Jim Crandall 1.0 FTE, Elaine Cranford 1.0 FTE, Mark Hutchison (FPC) .5 FTE, Alan Shaw, secretarial, .25 FTE.  All positions, except for Dr. Lutgens, were funded entirely from USDA RCDG grant. 


"The Nebraska Cooperative Development Center has helped us develop our business and get the professional training we’ve needed to excel in our field. Thanks to the NCDC mini-grants, Farmstead First members have been able to attend conferences and get hands-on training from dairy professionals and participate in professional networking with cheese makers and cheese buyers across the country. There is no doubt that our business venture has benefitted from these experiences-thanks so much, NCDC, for your support!" -Krista Dittman, Farmstead First

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