The first break out group considered the barriers to cooperatives and what policy changes can occur to break down those barriers.
My group (and many of the others) focused on three central areas: Education, Awareness, and Incentives.
Education needs to begin at the high-school level. People need to learn about co-ops and the economics of co-ops as part of the high school curriculum. By raising co-ops as a viable and important business model early can mainstream the model and help people start seeing co-ops.
Awareness can be facilitated through the State The Secretary of State can create a “co-op” option on business licenses and create an annual impact report that would allow elected leaders in every county see the impact of co-ops in their communities.
Finally, how can public policy incentivize co-op development? tax breaks? right of first refusal to tenants and employees? State development grants to to create co-op jobs?
These are just a few rough ideas from the discussion in the room and at out table. I am looking forward to the printed report outs and the rest of the day!