October is traditionally recognized as "Cooperative Month" throughout the nation, a time when cooperatives and their members make a special effort to educate the public about their member-owned and member-controlled business form. Throughout 2012, cooperatives have been celebrating the International Year of Cooperatives, which was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly to recognize the diversity of the cooperative movement around the world and the role of the cooperative business model in achieving economical viability, while also contributing social and community benefits. "Cooperatives Build a Better World" is the theme for this year's October Month celebrations.
"This year October Co-op Month is particularly special, as it is the pinnacle of our 2012 International Year of Cooperatives celebration," said Bill Oemichen, president and CEO of Cooperative Network, the organization that requested the Co-op Month proclamation. Cooperative Network is a trade association that serves more than 600 member-cooperative businesses in Wisconsin and Minnesota.
"Wisconsin has a proud cooperative heritage, and we appreciate Gov. Walker's proclamation which recognizes the significant contributions cooperative businesses make in the Badger state. Today, some 2.7 million Wisconsin citizens depend on approximately 650 co-ops to market and supply agricultural products as well as to provide credit, electricity, telephone service, health care, housing, insurance, and many other products and services," Oemichen said.
The proclamation signed by Walker recognizes that "cooperatives play a major role in Wisconsin's economy, annually recording about $8.6 billion in revenue, employing approximately 19,000 Wisconsin residents and paying nearly $780 million in wages and benefits each year."
The first official October Co-op Month proclamation was signed in Minnesota in 1948. The October Co-op Month celebration soon spread to other states, and in 1964, then U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Orville Freeman proclaimed the first national Co-op Month.
This year's theme, "Cooperatives Build a Better World," highlights some of the values that set cooperatives apart from for-profit businesses: cooperative buying power and economic advantage; community commitment and interaction; democratic principles; and people helping people.
Source: Cooperative Network