On June 2, NCBA President and CEO Paul Hazen participated in a round table discussion on economic development and the economy with President Obama’s top business and economic councils. Hazen was one of only a few presenters to address representatives from the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, the Council of Economic Advisors, the National Economic Council, the White House Business Council, the Office of Public Engagement and the Office of Science and Technology Policy , as well as representatives from the departments of Labor and the Treasury.
In his remarks, Hazen stressed the important role that cooperatives play in the US economy as “businesses that pay taxes, hire workers, provide benefits and create wealth in the communities where they operate.”
He said, “Cooperatives are focused on the triple bottom line: economic success, social progress, and environmental stewardship. As businesses, they have business needs. In these economic times, now more than ever, cooperatives need access to capital to grow and to create jobs.”
Remarks of Paul Hazen - White House Meeting, June 2, 2011
Thank you for inviting me to participate today. It is an honor to be here with Secretary Solis and officials with the White House Councils to discuss cooperatives and their role in our country’s need for economic development.
I am Paul Hazen, Chief Executive of the National Cooperative Business Association. NCBA is the national voice for cooperatives with the mission of developing, advancing, and protecting cooperative enterprise.
In the US, there are 29,000 cooperatives, with 120 million members, operating in 73,000 places of business throughout our nation.
Overall, US cooperatives account for more than $3 trillion in assets, over $500 billion in annual revenue, $25 billion in wages and benefits, and nearly 2 million jobs.
Examples of cooperatives would include: 7,500 credit unions with 91 million consumer owners; 900 cooperatives providing electricity and now broadband access to more than 42 million people; and independent purchasing cooperatives with over 75,000 small business members keeping main streets and local economies strong.
My time is short, but I want the group to know that cooperatives are an important sector in the US economy. They are businesses that pay taxes, hire workers, provide benefits, and create wealth in the communities where they operate. Cooperatives are focused on the triple bottom line: economic success, social progress, and environmental stewardship.
As businesses, they have business needs. In these economic times, now more than ever, cooperatives need access to capital to grow and to create jobs.
Currently, cooperatives are not eligible for Small Business Administration lending programs, due to regulations created in the 1960’s. There are many cooperatives that are ready to start growing and developing their businesses that desperately need the SBA programs.
For example, there are 300 consumer grocery cooperatives under development that would create thousands of jobs if they had access to the SBA lending programs. With this practical and easy policy change, cooperatives could acquire loans and start hiring workers almost overnight.
More jobs could be created if organizers of cooperatives have access to technical assistance. To address this need, NCBA is working with Congressman Fattah of Philadelphia on legislation that would create a cooperative development program focused on providing technical assistance for cooperatives in underserved areas.
Finally, the United Nations General Assembly has declared the year 2012 as the “International Year of Cooperatives.” The resolution calls upon governments globally to recognize the important role cooperatives play in providing economic opportunity for millions of people in the United States and billions of people around the world.
Thirty US Senators have recognized this important declaration by introducing a bipartisan Resolution asking President Obama to embrace the U.N. resolution. NCBA believes this would be a great opportunity for President Obama to raise the awareness of cooperatives and address how essential they are to the U.S. economy.
We are excited about the opportunity to work with the Administration on cooperative needs and issues; and we look forward to continuing this important dialogue in the future.
Thank you for your time.
President and CEO