The Democracy At Work Network is pleased to announce the launch of its Rural Technical Assistance Program. With the help of a Rural Cooperative Development Grant from the USDA DAWN will offer free technical assistance to help support worker cooperatives during start up, growth and expansion.
DAWN is a project of the U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives that provides affordable business consulting services to worker cooperatives and cooperative development organizations. Our team of certified peer advisors is made up of worker-owners of successful worker cooperatives who engage in a year-long training program to gain the skills to move from successful business person to successful cooperative peer advisor.
With its Rural TA Program, DAWN hopes to aid worker-owned businesses in living up to their full potential to provide sustainable livelihoods that support thriving rural economies.
Worker Cooperatives can be a fundamental building block of vibrant rural economies, anchoring jobs and key pieces of economic infrastructure inside of local communities. They are already an important part of many rural economic landscapes, from Select Machines in Kent, Ohio that kept manufacturing jobs local after the founders retired, to Ad Astra Coffee and Books in Salina, Kansas that is helping to lead the revitalization of a rural town’s Main Street. From the newly cooperativized Real Pickles, a local food products manufacturer in Greenfield, Massachusetts to Cooperative Care of Waushara County, Wisconsin, worker cooperatives ensure that a business remains focused on job creation, community health and providing a dignified workplace.
“People have always used cooperatives to meet their needs,” said USFWC Executive Director Melissa Hoover. “Worker cooperatives have previously tended to be concentrated in cities, but as the economy changes we’re getting more inquiries from rural people – everyone from small farmers to recent immigrants to professionals who have lost their government contracts. These days people are struggling to make ends meet, and to access and provide basic services in tough rural economies. They’re seeing cooperatives as a solution.”
As part of its rural technical assistance program DAWN will be able to provide a wide variety of technical assistance services to rural cooperatives at low or no cost. From providing basic business services and mentorship to more in-depth research, DAWN’s peer advisors prioritize building the internal capacity of the cooperatives they work with, and connecting their clients to the broader cooperative movement. Among the services that DAWN offers are:
- Building cooperative business start up road maps.
- Feasibility studies
- Strategic planning
- Democratic governance structure design and training
- Growth and expansion planning
- Financial training
- Loan readiness
- Support to non-profits developing cooperatives for economic development
For more information or to request assistance rural cooperatives and other interested parties should visit dawn.coop or email firstname.lastname@example.org .To apply for technical assistance visit our application page.