The idea for CGN was initially spawned by a group of co-op leaders — Dan Foley, Bill Gessner, Gail Graham, Alan Mathewson, and Carolee Colter. This group wanted to set up a “low-overhead organization that cranks out products, not studies.”

A meeting at CCMA (Consumer Cooperative Management Association Conference) in 1997, attended by approximately 60 cooperators, was held to discuss the idea and to solicit support. Following that, 35 organizations contributed over $11,000 to help finance the organization’s planning and a steering committee was formed. Paul Cultrera was hired to develop the business plan for a “national co-op information service.” Based on the strength of that plan, the NCB Development Corporation provided a generous grant to help finance the organization’s start-up expenses.

The new group was named “Cooperative Grocers’ Information Network” — referred to as CGIN (see-gin). CGIN was incorporated as a nonprofit association in the state of Vermont in January 1998. CGIN held its first membership meeting at CCMA in June 1998 where members elected the organization’s first board and approved its bylaws. CGIN received tax-exempt status [501(c )6] from the Internal Revenue Service in October of 1998. In 2007, CGIN contracted with National Cooperative Grocers Association to assume responsibility for the management of CGIN.


In the summer of 2011, the CGIN board moved its management contract to Triangle Park Creative, a communications firm with strong ties to the food co-op sector, including publishing the Cooperative Grocer magazine for NCGA. Dan Nordley, principal of Triangle Park, took on the role of executive director.

In January of 2012, the board of CGIN engaged in a two day strategic retreat which resulted in the development of a new strategic plan -- attached below. THE PLAN  called for CGIN to:

  • Facilitate organic sharing and collaboration
  • Grow its membership
  • Strengthen operationa services and systems
  • Acquire and integrate Cooperative Grocer magazine into CGIN 

By the June 2012 annual meeting at CCMA, NCGA had agreed to the transfer of the publication, bylaws were changed to make membership more accessible to smaller and emerging start-up co-ops, and a full reset of the website was underway.  The handout from that meeting is attached below.

Also, with the merger with the magazine, the board decided to change the name to Cooperative Grocer Network, as it was widely recognized, there is no "I" in co-ops. It is still referred to as CGN ("see-gin").

CGN currently has a membership of 150 food co-ops and 9 associate members.

All incorporated food co-operatives are encouraged to join our community. Please go to our About & Join page for more information on joining.