Each year, Congress recesses for nearly the full month of August. During this time, Senators and Representatives take the opportunity to visit with constituents and small businesses all across their district or state. It’s an important avenue for elected officials to hear firsthand from community leaders on what is working, what needs fixing, and how they can help as your representative.
For more than a century, co-ops have been a critical component of a strong local economy by creating greater opportunity for more people and businesses. The past 16 months have made clear that it is imperative to build relationships with elected officials and help representatives understand the impact of cooperatives in local communities. This type of advocacy by the co-op community resulted in cooperatives being eligible participants in the major small business disaster assistance programs including the Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program. Now, Congress has the opportunity to center co-ops as a key strategy for sustainable local economic development as communities across the country seek to rebuild after the immediate impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cooperators across the country have invited their elected officials to their local co-op’s. In one example, the Kitsap Community Food Co-op invited their U.S. Representative, Derek Kilmer to visit the co-op. Days later, Congressman Kilmer joined the Congressional Cooperative Business Caucus.
Invite your elected official to meet your co-op members, see a community project, discuss how your co-op has adapted through the pandemic, or simply help them better understand how living out the seven cooperative principles makes co-ops good stewards of their communities and drivers of grassroots economic growth. To find your elected officials and their contact information, you can visit www.house.gov and www.senate.gov, respectively. As always, cooperators are always welcome to reach out to NCBA CLUSA staff to help facilitate these conversations at firstname.lastname@example.org. or USFWC staff at email@example.com.