On RFD-TV: Charlotte Narjes
People who live in rural communities across the United States understand the importance of essential businesses like grocery stores. A University of Nebraska-Lincoln program is helping rural communities that have lost their grocery stores to keep the doors open through the formation of a cooperative. Charlotte Narjes of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Nebraska Cooperative Development Center talked about the efforts live on RFD-TV, June 28.
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[00:00:00.420]Well, the University of Nebraska is helping rural
communities that have lost a central businesses.
[00:00:05.730]Their cooperative development program is currently
working to keep grocery store doors open in our small
[00:00:10.710]towns across Nebraska.
[00:00:12.450]Charlotte Narjes joins us now from the university there
in Lincoln with a further look at their efforts.
[00:00:19.290]And Charlotte, thank you very much for taking the time
to chat with us today.
[00:00:22.800]And tell us why communities like Lynch, Nebraska are
turning to grocery cooperatives.
[00:00:29.850]Well, thank you, Janet, for having me here today.
[00:00:32.280]Well, Lincoln, Nebraska, its population is 212.
[00:00:35.430]They lost their grocery store the beginning of 2020.
[00:00:37.920]And NCDC began working with Lynch in December of 2021.
[00:00:42.450]And Valley Foods Cooperative opened in February of 22
[00:00:47.310]The cooperative model was selected really to get the
buy in of the community and engage them in the process
[00:00:52.470]and to really minimize the risk.
[00:00:54.660]So in Lynch, the cooperative model is working.
[00:00:57.450]Its people are supporting the store and sales have been
[00:01:03.180]It's been great because elderly have been able to stay
in the community.
[00:01:07.350]And it really can help attract other people to the
[00:01:11.280]And tell us a little bit about the Nebraska Cooperative
Development Center and of course, also the process of
[00:01:16.530]simply forming a cooperative.
[00:01:19.470]Sure, well NCDC has actually been helping form
cooperative businesses for over 20 years.
[00:01:25.290]Were funded in part from a USDA Rural Cooperative
[00:01:29.370]There are a number of centers across the United States.
[00:01:33.330]For example, what we do when we're forming cooperatives
is help people from exploration to implementation, and
[00:01:40.920]then on to helping them planning and then
[00:01:45.090]We'll do that with education and training.
[00:01:47.190]We also help communities when they have to navigate
[00:01:50.870]One of the bigger challenges in rural communities is
the supply chain.
[00:01:55.850]The supplier needs to make money in order to deliver
the groceries, cover their transportation costs.
[00:02:01.940]And the small town has to have affordable prices.
[00:02:07.610]Lynch continued to work with suppliers throughout this
[00:02:10.850]And they found someone that was willing to share a load
with them that they were able to get affordable
[00:02:16.760]groceries to the community.
[00:02:18.650]So what kind of other businesses can maybe form
[00:02:23.270]Any business can be formed as a cooperative.
[00:02:25.250]It truthfully depends on the goals of those businesses
and those that are working together, what are their
[00:02:31.670]The cooperative grocery store is one example of a
community supported effort.
[00:02:35.570]It could be any anchor institution that's critical that
[00:02:39.740]Businesses that may also consider transferring to a
[00:02:44.660]There's some nice examples of that.
[00:02:46.790]And we're currently working actually on an investment
cooperative in Nebraska and some home health care
[00:02:53.120]worker cooperatives that are a little unique.
[00:02:55.490]Now Charlotte, if I'm in another small town of less
than 200 people somewhere in rural America, what is the
[00:03:01.280]first step that I need to take to maybe see if this
might be possible in my own local region?
[00:03:07.190]Well, I think one thing you could do is contact look on
the internet to see if you can find some cooperative
[00:03:13.130]There are, again, cooperative development centers in
many of the states.
[00:03:17.390]They're also if they want call, look at our website,
and NCDC.unl.edu, they can call me and I could try to
[00:03:24.380]find someone in their community to help them.
[00:03:27.740]Well, Charlotte, thank you very much for your insight
[00:03:29.930]Charlotte Narjes she's with UNL's Cooperative
Development Center connecting with us today out of
[00:03:35.600]Again in ncdc.unl.edu for more information.
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