RPN Today - S1E4 - Real Estate Co-ops
Rural Nebraska communities are no strangers to cooperatives. Between the panhandle and the Missouri, you can find any number of cooperative grocery stores in Nebraska. But foods and markets aren’t the only kinds of cooperatives in the Cornhusker state. In Beatrice, Michael Sothan, the executive director of Main Street Beatrice, is establishing a real estate cooperative to stimulate economic growth and community pride in the town.
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[00:00:00.704](bright guitar music)
[00:00:15.780]Rural Nebraska communities are no strangers
[00:00:19.800]Between the Panhandle and the Missouri,
[00:00:21.840]you can find any number of cooperative grocery stores
[00:00:25.830]But foods and markets aren't the only kinds of cooperatives
[00:00:28.680]in The Corn Husker state.
[00:00:30.390]This summer, Cindy Holden from the Nebraska
[00:00:32.880]Cooperative Development Center,
[00:00:34.710]ran a six-part webinar series
[00:00:36.660]about establishing medical home care cooperatives,
[00:00:39.450]and in Beatrice, Michael Sothan,
[00:00:41.730]the executive director of Main Street Beatrice,
[00:00:44.490]is establishing a real estate cooperative.
[00:00:46.980]Downtowns have had a lot of ups and downs over the years.
[00:00:50.160]Ours is no different.
[00:00:51.150]We've got some properties that are really excelling,
[00:00:53.610]but we have some that are dealing with issues of vacancy,
[00:00:58.770]dilapidation, and the question has always been here
[00:01:01.680]in Beatrice, who's the next person to step up
[00:01:04.647]and invest in these properties?
[00:01:07.380]The foundational idea is that a group
[00:01:09.090]of individuals from Beatrice will together
[00:01:12.000]purchase a building in the downtown area, renovate it,
[00:01:15.210]and either lease it out or sell it to a new business.
[00:01:18.360]The proceeds from that transaction will create an upward
[00:01:20.970]spiral that go toward purchasing
[00:01:22.860]and renovating other downtown structures.
[00:01:25.500]The historic buildings don't fix themselves.
[00:01:28.020]You know, it does take people.
[00:01:29.700]The nice thing about a cooperative is that it's really
[00:01:31.800]about engaging people as well and creating community buy-in.
[00:01:35.940]While economic development
[00:01:37.110]is a motivating factor, so is community pride.
[00:01:40.320]Someone in the community that's now making an impact,
[00:01:43.380]now they can say, hey, that building that got renovated,
[00:01:46.260]that business that got started in there,
[00:01:48.240]I was a part of that.
[00:01:49.920]And I think that really has power.
[00:01:51.660]To navigate the legalities
[00:01:53.070]and red tape of creating an investment cooperative,
[00:01:55.616]Sothan has teamed up with Charlotte Narjes,
[00:01:58.440]the associate director of the Nebraska Cooperative
[00:02:00.990]Development Center, at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln.
[00:02:04.170]I wasn't even sure there was an investment cooperative
[00:02:07.260]of we can do it in Nebraska.
[00:02:09.330]So I reached out to a wider network of people
[00:02:11.850]and from there we worked with someone from Minneapolis
[00:02:14.880]that helped guide the process at the initial stages
[00:02:18.540]and worked with an attorney that knows cooperative law
[00:02:22.920]to know that everything was legal in Nebraska.
[00:02:25.710]While investment cooperatives
[00:02:26.880]aren't a new idea, Beatrice would be the first of its kind
[00:02:31.260]However, Narjes hopes it will not be the last.
[00:02:34.110]But it wouldn't be just a model for Nebraska,
[00:02:36.150]it'd be for the United States.
[00:02:37.919]I work with some cooperatives,
[00:02:42.480]developers across the United States,
[00:02:44.100]and there's a number of rural communities
[00:02:45.930]that are looking at this.
[00:02:47.280]Given the recent struggles Nebraska has faced
[00:02:49.650]between floods and the pandemic,
[00:02:51.510]it's easy to see how community and collaboration are key
[00:02:54.540]to the state's ability to thrive and succeed.
[00:02:57.090]We don't know what the future economic
[00:02:58.920]situation's gonna be.
[00:03:00.660]Maybe the best way to keep us from really struggling
[00:03:04.605]is with that local investment on a very diverse,
[00:03:09.060]spread out scale that a cooperative can bring.
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