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Whether They Know It or Not, 1 in 3 Iowans is a Co-op Member

Iowa’s cooperatives hope you’ll learn more During October ‘Cooperative Month in Iowa’

DES MOINES, Iowa (October 5, 2021) – More than one out of every three Iowans is a member of a co-op through industries like rural electric, credit unions, rural telephone, farm credit, petroleum, retail and more. Some may not even know they are reaping the benefits of cooperative membership.

“Co-ops exist for the benefit of their members, while also serving the needs of their local communities,” said Dave Holm, Executive Director of the Iowa Institute for Cooperatives. “Iowa’s cooperative industries have been serving members on the forefront of the pandemic, and our biggest impact comes from embracing the values and principles that make us truly unique.

“This year’s National Co-op Month theme is “Build Back for Impact,” which is a chance to leverage our shared cooperative identity in the face of some of the biggest challenges we have faced as a state and a nation,” he says.

Co-ops benefit both rural and urban Iowa, serving more than 1.4 million members throughout the state. In rural communities alone, co-ops pay approximately $41 million in property taxes and help support critical infrastructure.

As not-for-profit organizations cooperatives are owned and democratically controlled by their members. They exist to benefit the people who use the co-op’s services, rather than to generate profits for outside investors, and members elect their board of directors from within the membership.

Whether it’s the members they serve or the Iowans they employ, the cooperative movement is committed to enhance economic opportunity and improve the quality of life in Iowa’s cities, towns and rural areas.

By the numbers
Grain and farm supply cooperatives in Iowa generate significant income, employment, and revenue and function as engines of economic growth for local communities as they operate in some 700 Iowa communities and employ more than 8,000 people, serving 122,000 member-owners and pay more than $32 million in local property taxes.

Credit unions in Iowa, as financial cooperatives, improve the financial lives of consumers, function as engines of economic growth as they operate in all 99 counties, employ more than 4,200 people, serve 1.3 million member-owners and contribute $1.6 billion in economic output.

“Iowa credit unions are proud to be part of the cooperative movement and are committed to improving the financial lives of Iowans,” said Murray Williams, President and CEO of the Iowa Credit Union League.

Rural electric and telephone cooperatives connect Iowans and have helped bring $10 billion in investment to rural economic development over the past 30 years, employ more than 1,500 people, have more than 690,000 member-owners, and pay nearly $15 million in property taxes each year.

“Iowa’s locally owned electric cooperatives are proud of our legacy of powering lives and empowering communities,” says Chuck Soderberg, EVP and general manager of the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives. “Our mission is to provide co-op members with safe, affordable and reliable electricity that is sustainable.”

Visit www.iowacooperatives.com to learn more about how cooperatives are critical to Iowa’s economy.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Are cooperatives just for farmers?
A. For more than 200 years, Americans have worked together in cooperatives to meet challenges that are too big for them to solve individually. People often think of agriculture when they hear the word co-op in Iowa. In reality, more than one out of every three Iowans is a member of a co-op through industries like rural electric, credit unions, rural telephone, farm credit, petroleum, and more.

Q. What is a co-op exactly?
A. Co-ops are not-for-profit organizations that are owned and democratically controlled by their members. They exist to benefit the people who use the co-op’s services, rather than to generate profits for outside investors, and members elect their board of directors from within the membership.

Q. Why are we talking about Cooperatives now?
A. As part of National Co-op Month, Governor Kim Reynolds has declared October as Co-op Month in Iowa. It is an important opportunity to take a moment and celebrate the positive economic impact these organizations have in our state. During the month, cooperatives of all types and from all industries reaffirm their member-owned mission and commitment to the communities in which their members live and work.

Q. Why are cooperatives important to Iowa’s economy?
A. Co-ops benefit both rural and urban Iowa, serving more than 1.4 million members throughout the state. In rural communities alone, co-ops pay approximately $41 million in property taxes and help support critical infrastructure.More than 11,000 Iowans are employed by co-ops, which often provide first-class benefits like healthcare, benefit programs, 401k plans, life insurance, paid time off, continued education incentives and even wellness plans. In fact, if these cooperative employees were grouped together, cooperatives would be in the top 10 largest employers in Iowa. Visit www.iowacooperatives.com to learn more about how cooperatives are critical to Iowa’s economy.

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