Nebraska Cooperative Development Center

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Dedicated to assisting people prosper in rural areas through cooperative business development

Cornhusker Economics - March 3, 2021

Community Supported Enterprises -- Preparing for the Future

By Charlotte Narjes

The Bayard Grocery store made headline news in Nebraska the end of January with the announcement of its upcoming closure. Unfortunately, a grocery store closing is not uncommon in Nebraska or across the United States.  A North Dakota study from the state’s association of rural electric cooperatives in 2017 found that in communities with 2,100 people or fewer, there are 98 full-service grocery stores, down from 137 in 2014.  In addition, A PEW Trusts article in October 2019, further addresses the nationwide challenge of rural grocery store closures.  Challenges include decreased population, competition from superstores (i.e., Walmart), and rural food distribution.

While there are many challenges to rural grocery store transitions, this article focuses on how community supported enterprises can assist a community in preparing now for successful rural grocery store transitions.

Community Supported Enterprises – what does this mean?  Simply it is when community members organize a business that involves pooling local funds with the intent to keep the business sustainable.  Walzer and Sandoval in Emergence and Growth of Community Supported Enterprises state that a community supported enterprise is difficult to define precisely due to its  diverse purposes and approaches, but a common characteristic is direct community support and involvement.  Social Enterprises and Community Supported Businesses are two models that are identified. 

Social Enterprises meet a social need or purpose and are not focused on selling a product.  Generally funded by direct contributions or donations.

Community Supported Businesses represent a way to provide general community support for a private business.  The investors may or may not be involved in managing the business venture.  However, a product or service is generally sold.

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2021 Cooperative Business Development Mini-Grant

The Nebraska Cooperative Development Center (NCDC) is happyu to announce the recipienats of its 2021 Cooperative Business Development Mini-Grant program grants. 

2021 grantees include City of Peru. Farm to Family Cooperative in Hay Springs, Emerson Grocery Coop, Farmers Market 365, and the Lynch Grocery Store Committee.

NCDC Mini-grants are available to groups who are pursuing/exploring a multi-owner or cooperative business or to incorporated cooperatives (or other business entities operating as a cooperative) in rural Nebraska.  Groups (including communities) that are exploring community-supported ventures are also eligible to apply.

For more information contact Cindy Houlden at choulden2@unl.edu.

NCDC in the Midst of Covid19

Since March, NCDC has been taking proactive steps to protect the health and safety of employees and customers in respect to the potential spread of COVID-19.

NCDC Can Meet Virtually

NCDC has zoom capabilities and we are happy to coordinate and organize group meetings to explore the possibilities, assess feasibilities and implementation of your group. We are also available to meet one-on-one via zoom or over the phone.

As we receive guidance from UNL, we will update our meeting options.

Nebraska Cooperative Development Center Contacts

Charlotte Narjes: cnarjes1@unl.edu
402-472-1724

Cindy Houlden: choulden2@unl.edu
308-293-6417 (cell)

Skylar Falter: sfalter@unl.edu
402-472-5273

Margaret Milligan: milligan2@unl.edu
402-472-5273

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