In rural America, cooperatives are all around us. The local gas station, the grocery store, and the grain elevator are often operated by cooperatives made up of local farmers and community members. Many financial institutions like credit unions and mutual insurance companies are also operated based on the cooperative business model of focusing on members instead of profits.
Northern Electric Cooperative joins with our fellow co-ops in the region to celebrate National Co-op Month in October. In 1964, former Minnesota governor Orville Freeman officially recognized October as National Co-op Month when he was serving as the United States Secretary of Agriculture. Since that time co-op’s have celebrated this unique way of doing business every year.
At Northern Electric Cooperative, however, we like to celebrate Co-op Month early. If you are a Northern Electric Cooperative member you likely noticed a bill credit on your statement in September. You also probably heard about our annual meeting in September. Both are examples of what makes Northern Electric a cooperative.
First, the bill credits that most members received on their September statements are called capital credits. Capital credits are unique to cooperatives. Since cooperatives like Northern Electric are not-for-profit entities, any profits, or margins, made by the co-op are returned to members. Capital credits represent a member’s share in the cooperative since co-ops are member-owned and member operated organizations. Northern Electric typically delivers these credits in the form of bill credits every September. It’s one way to celebrate Co-op Month a few weeks early!
The Northern Electric Annual Meeting is also a celebration of your local cooperative. The annual meeting is a time for members of the co-op to gather together to share a meal, learn about their cooperative, and take action on any official business. The annual meeting is also a time when co-op members take part in the cooperative principle of democratic participation. Co-ops are operated by a board of directors made up of people just like you. The Northern Electric Cooperative Board of Directors are your friends and neighbors who decided to step up to take on the responsibility of attending monthly meetings and making the decisions that impact the operation of your cooperative. Northern Electric Cooperative Directors are elected and officially seated on the board during the annual meeting. The annual meeting is open to all members and exemplifies what makes your cooperative different than any other business or organization.
So, while October is officially recognized as National Co-op Month, Northern Electric Cooperative often puts the cooperative difference on full display for its members in September and then we continue to focus on putting you - our members - first all year long.