A new day is dawning for cooperatives all across our land – from Northwest Philadelphia to the Cornbelt. A movement that throughout our history has been associated with rural areas is taking hold in our largest cities, with Philadelphia as a prime success story.
That is why I am co-sponsoring – along with Republican Congresswoman Jo Ann Emerson of Missouri – a Capitol Hill briefing on “The Role of Cooperatives in Rural and Urban Communities.” The briefing, aimed at Members and their staff, will showcase practitioners, advocates and academics describing the challenges that coops are facing. It will describe why federal policy support – which I have pledged to develop -- is needed for these unique entities.
The policy makers and stakeholders who will be filling a Rayburn House Office Building hearing room Tuesday afternoon will hear a lot about Mt. Airy’s pride, the Weavers Way Coop. Bob Noble of Weavers Way will make a presentation along with speakers from the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, Cleveland Ohio’s Evergreen Cooperative Initiative, the National Credit Union Association and others from city, town and farm. Credit Unions – a major banking alternative in Philadelphia – are, by the way, the nation’s largest co-op sector.
Health coperatives are a growing segment of the movement . On Friday March 25, in New York City, I visited the Cooperative Home Care Associates (CHCA) -- a nationally recognized, South Bronx-based owner home care agency. CHCA now anchors a national cooperative network generating over $60 million annually in revenue and creating quality jobs for over 1,600 individuals.
Such economic impact is the norm. Coops are unique, but they aren’t small. Overall, U.S. cooperatives account for more than $3 trillion in assets, over $500 billion in revenue, $25 billion in wages and benefits – and nearly one million jobs.
Cooperatives are good neighbors. Often cooperatives provide funds for community fairs, health centers, fund drives, and the like. As a result of working together in cooperatives, members better understand how to unite in solving community problems. And leaders developed in cooperatives – as we have seen at Weavers Way -- also become leaders in other community organizations.
As Co-Chairman of the Congressional Urban Caucus, I have set the cooperative movement high on my agenda for the 112th Congress. I have met with national co-op leaders, and my staff is developing approaches that support their legislative goals. Whatever else may be the temper of the current Congress, the cooperative movement offers great prospects – to use the proper word - for bipartisan “cooperation.”
Congressman Chaka Fattah visiting the offices of Cooperative Home Care Associates (CHCA) in New York City. Featured in this picture are Congressman Fattah, CHCA President Michael Elsas along with four home health aides – Isabel Manjarrez, Margarita Pillot, Marva Diggins, and Gail Porter.