Macomb Food Co-op Hosts USDA Grant Ceremony

MACOMB, IL -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development presented the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs (IIRA) at Western Illinois University with a $200,000 Rural Cooperative Development grant today at the Macomb Food Cooperative. The award allows IIRA's Illinois Cooperative Development Center (ICDC) to help start and retain cooperatives and other community-owned businesses in Illinois.

"We see cooperatives, which are businesses that are owned and democratically controlled by people in the community, as a key way to provide needed services, create jobs and generate capital investment in rural Illinois," ICDC Program Manager Fred Iutzi explained.

Rural Development Director Colleen Callahan stressed the importance of partnerships in driving success for cooperatives and rural communities.

"The cooperative business model is an effective and flexible tool for community economic development," she added. "The more we work together the more we can accomplish. Our partnership with the Illinois Cooperative Development Center extends the impact of this investment many times over."

The relationship between Macomb Food Cooperative and McDonough Telephone Cooperative is a key example of such a partnership, according to Iutzi.

"It's been a privilege for IIRA to work with both these co-ops to help them succeed and better serve their member-owners," Iutzi said. "That McDonough Telephone is now assisting Macomb Food Co-op's start-up by providing use of the building for the Food Co-op's local marketplace operations illustrates the economic development snowball effect that a small investment in technical assistance can have."

Entrepreneurs and community leaders can access free, one-on-one assistance from Illinois Cooperative Development Center, view an extensive collection of online resources on cooperatives, and learn about new IIRA initiatives to empower community foundations and local economic development agencies to support community-based co-op business development by visiting iira.org or calling (800) 526-9943.

Posted By: WIU News ([email protected])

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