By HDN Editorial Board
Depending on what you find exciting, economic growth in rural America can prove to be a major stimulant, especially in areas such as Havre and the Hi-Line, where good economic times seem to be relatively absent.
But as Montana State University-Northern officially becomes the center of the Montana Cooperative Development Center, the potential for economic change waits like a loaded gun, ready to fire financial growth across the state's repressed regions.
The Cooperative Development Center, as described through literature offered by the program, is "a statewide resource for community-based development and assistance in Montana." Its mission is to "study and promote cooperative action as a means of meeting the economic needs of rural Montana."
What's more, the Cooperative Development Center intends to promote, develop and coordinate educational programs, technical assistance and research on the cooperative form of business. Together, the intent is to improve the economy in Montana, by focusing on cooperatively organized enterprises that instill "value added" processing of Montana's raw agriculture.
In simpler terms, the Cooperative Development Center, once fully established, is a means of giving agricultural producers a way of helping themselves in hard times, by building a cooperative "team" with other producers.
The results can be beneficial to producers, which in turn can help stimulate our sluggish economy which largely depends upon the success of our agricultural producers. Consequently, standing in support of the Cooperative Development Center and MSU-Northern should not be limited to farmers and ranchers alone, but also should be supported by grocers, car dealers and, to make the point, by nickel and dime stores
that could benefit from more customers with more to spend.
The very idea sits poised in the making with tremendous potential. And as the 17 member Montana Cooperative Development Center Advisory Council gets the program off the ground, waiting only for funding, Hi-Line residents should inquire as to what the center is, and how it can help.
As it's first public seminar, the cooperative center will offer five workshops in early January: Introduction to Cooperatives; Cooperatives as Value Added Enterprises; Organizing Cooperatives; Financing Cooperatives; and Networking People and Cooperatives.
Havre and the Hi-Line should take note, and take advantage of the opportunity to attend the workshops which, in turn, can go a long way in changing the local economy.
To find out more about the Montana Cooperative Development Center and the upcoming workshops, contact Director of Grants and Sponsored Research at MSU-Northern Greg Jergeson at 265-3595.
Here's the chance to change the times, and put Montana's producers back in the fair market. The results will benefit everyone.