The Impact of Cooperatives to Iowa

Those of us directly involved with the cooperative world know cooperatives have a profound impact on Iowa’s economy.  But, just how much of an impact do co-ops have?  The following is some information we have compiled that addresses the economic impact of co-ops in Iowa.

We asked our members:

When evaluating the impact cooperatives have on Iowa, we asked the following questions:

  • How many locations do you have?
  • How many employees do you have?
  • How many members do you have?
  • What was your annual sales volume for the last fiscal year?
  • What do you pay in property taxes annually?
  • What do you pay in payroll and benefits annually to employees?

Cooperatives Economic Impact

Locations 990
Employees 10,900
Members 1.37 million
Payroll and Benefits Paid $582 million
Average Payroll and Benefits per Employee $53,000

To collect our information, we created a survey that addressed these question out to grain and farm supply and petroleum cooperatives.  We then took it a step further and posed these same questions to other types of Iowa cooperatives.  The table to the right combines all of the available information addressing the economic impact of cooperatives to Iowa’s economy.

Results by Type of Cooperative

We sent out 79 surveys and to all the grain and farm supply as well as petroleum co-ops in Iowa.  The following is the summary of information from the 77 respondents.

Grain & Farm Supply & Petroleum Results

Locations 618
Employees 6,490
Members 129,000
Annual Sales Volume $11.5 billion
Annual Property Taxes Paid $26.7 million
Payroll & Benefits Paid $352 million
Average Payroll & Benefits per Employee $54,300

Grain and farm supply co-ops have 129,000 member-owners. They provide almost 6,500 good jobs in over 600 communities. These jobs had an average salary and benefits of over $54,300.  Furthermore, cooperatives pay a tremendous amount of property taxes to their local communities totaling almost $27 million.

Rural Electric Co-ops

Locations 48
Employees 1,270
Members 169,000
Annual Property Taxes Paid $11.8 million
Payroll & Benefits Paid $79.7 million
Average Payroll & Benefits per Employee $62,900

Thanks to the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives, we learned that REC’s operate in 48 communities.  These REC’s employ over 1,200 people with an average salary and benefits package of almost $63,000. About 170,000 people are member-owners of Iowa REC’s.

Telephone Co-ops

Locations 31
Employees 475
Members 72,000
Annual Property Taxes Paid $2,230,000.00
Payroll & Benefits Paid $22,200,000.00
Average Payroll & Benefits per Employee $46,700

Kiesling & Associates provided us with information for 31 (almost all) telephone cooperatives in Iowa. These telephone cooperatives provide jobs for over 470 people with the average salary and benefits of $46,700 per employee. Telephone co-ops pay over 2.2 million dollars in property taxes to their local communities.

Credit Unions

Locations 293
Employees 2650 FTE
Members Over 1,000,000
Payroll & Benefits Paid $127 million

According to the Iowa Credit Union League, credit unions do business in 290 communities and provide jobs for 2,652 people. Credit unions may not operate in as many rural areas, but they provide the cooperative structure in that they are member owned. Iowa Credit Unions have over a million members.

What does this all mean?

Co-ops play an important role in the communities they operate in. 1.4 million people in Iowa are members of at least one cooperative (many belong to more than one).

Co-ops provide almost 11,000 Iowans with good jobs that often provide benefits including healthcare, a defined benefit program, 401k plans with matches, term life insurance, paid time off, continued education incentives and potentially wellness plans. If cooperative employees were grouped together, cooperatives would be in the top ten largest employers in Iowa.

Co-ops pay a tremendous amount of property taxes that help support the communities they are a part of. Between grain and farm supply, petroleum, telephone and RECs, about $41 million is paid in property taxes to Iowa communities. Property taxes paid, especially in rural counties, have a tremendous impact on county budgets.

As the demographics in Iowa continue to change, cooperatives continue to provide career opportunities where other industries do not.  We need co-ops in rural areas to continue to make these communities viable. Cooperative employees live and raise their families in many of these rural communities and benefit from the tremendous amount of property taxes paid by these cooperatives.

The community commitment of cooperatives enhances economic opportunity and improves quality of life in Iowa’s cities, towns and rural areas. During the month of October, cooperatives of all types and from all industries reaffirm their member-owned mission, commitment to community and pledge continued active involvement in the communities in which their members live and work.