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COOPERATIVE STRONG


There are nine categories in which cooperatives can be placed: Artist, Childcare, Banks and Credit Unions, Energy, Freelancer, Housing, Producer and Marketing, Purchasing and Worker Cooperatives.


Here’s a sampling of cooperatives that exist in Oklahoma:


Oklahoma Indian Arts & Crafts Cooperative


based in Anadarko Oklahoma Childcare Resource & Referral


Association, Inc. based in Oklahoma City


Pioneer Telephone Cooperative based in Kingfisher, and Santa Rosa Telephone Cooperative, which serves Devol, Elmer and Randlett in Oklahoma


Nationwide Insurance, which has offices


throughout Oklahoma Cooperative Council for Oklahoma School


Association based in Oklahoma City Farmers Cooperative Association based in


Snyder Healthy Hearts for Oklahoma based in Tulsa Oklahoma Shared Clinical & Translational


Resources based in Tulsa Oklahoma State Cooperative Extension Service


based in Stillwater


Ace Hardware, which has stores throughout Oklahoma


Worker Cooperative Law Project based in Oklahoma City


Oklahoma BuyBoard Purchasing Cooperative, an agency partnering with Cooperative Council for Oklahoma School Association based in Oklahoma City


22 WWW.OKL.COOP


From agricultural co-ops to food co-ops, Oklahoma benefits from various cooperative businesses


I By Jeff Kaley


n the process of creating an economic model in 1844, members of the Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers wanted a system rooted in democracy. What emerged were the Rochdale Principles. Over the decades, the Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers faded into history, but the concept of cooperatives remains in the economic model it left behind. Members of rural electric cooperatives in Oklahoma adhere to seven cooperative principles, which are: 1. Open and voluntary membership; 2. Democratic member con- trol; 3. Members’ economic participation; 4. Autonomy and independence; 5. Education, training and information; 6. Cooperation among cooperatives; 7. Concern for commu- nity. There are other types of cooperatives besides electric cooperatives that adhere to these principles as well. “Those are basically the same principles we follow. You can have open cooperatives and closed cooperatives, which are only open to members who bought in,” said Jeannie Hileman, manager of the Carnegie Cooperative Cotton Gin, one of 17 cooperative cotton gins in Oklahoma. Cooperatives are formed by a group of people who share a common need. Cooperative members pool their resources, which gives them more leverage in the handling of their product. In the case of the Carnegie gin, it has allowed the business to ride out the ups and downs that come with being involved in agriculture. “When our current gin was built in 1925, it was funded by $100 shares,” noted Hileman, who became gin manager in 1990. “When I started, there were over 50 (cotton) gins in the state.”


At one time there were five gins in Carnegie, but some of them closed and some of them consolidated, just like other gins did around the state. “In 2002, we kind of bottomed-out, but we started doing well again, and in the last three years we’ve become the biggest gin in production in Oklahoma,” she said. “In fact, last year was an all-time high for all of the cooperative gins in the state, and this year could be even better, thanks to the weather we’ve had that is good for cotton growing.”


Riding the crest of success, the members of the Carnegie Cooperative Gin voted to allow its board of directors to go shopping this year. The directors returned with three options. The first was to consider building a new gin facility; the second option was to modify the current facility in downtown Carnegie; and the third was to purchase an updated gin and have it brought to town.


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