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Cooperatives are tied to their local communities in ways that other businesses are not, and they fulfill a variety of different needs. The Iowa Institute for Cooperatives has the expertise to serve a wide range of cooperatives, including:
- Agricultural cooperatives. In Iowa, farmer-owned cooperatives handle agricultural commodities, furnish farm supplies, and sometimes provide credit and related financial services. Earnings from these activities are returned to the co-ops’ farmer members on a patronage basis, helping improve their competitiveness in the marketplace.
- Credit unions. Iowa boasts more than 140 credit unions with 900,000 members statewide. Credit unions offer a wide range of services at prices that are usually lower than those at for-profit institutions.
- Utilities. From electricity to telecommunications, cooperatives play a key role in providing affordable, reliable utilities to thousands of Iowans.
- Healthcare. In recent years, cooperatives have emerged as a key resource to keep healthcare costs and insurance premiums affordable for consumers and small businesses. Health-care cooperatives also help community-owned, non-profit hospitals remain independent; improve the quality of home-based healthcare and assisted living; and allow small, independent pharmacists to compete with larger retailers.
- Marketing co-ops. Some of the biggest name brands are actually marketing co-ops. They may look like corporate chain stores at first glance, but these businesses are owned and democratically controlled by their members, who operate one or more locations across Iowa.
- Food co-ops. From small retail stores to large supermarkets, food cooperatives are owned and controlled by their customers. Both the organic and local food trends started with retail food cooperatives.
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