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Cooperative spirit still going strong in New Hampshire

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New Hampshire's food cooperatives invest some of their savings in ways that promote affordable housing cooperatives, like resident-owned communities (ROCs).

New Hampshire's food cooperatives invest some of their savings in ways that promote affordable housing cooperatives, like resident-owned communities (ROCs).

A belief in the cooperative model of doing business is a thread that has wound around and through the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund since our earliest days.

In 1984, when the residents of a mobile home park in Meredith faced eviction, we helped them organize a cooperative, then loaned the cooperative the money to buy the park. From that seed grew a state, then a national, movement of communities cooperatively owned by their residents. There are now 121 in New Hampshire alone.

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We made a loan to the Littleton Food Co-op last year to allow the market to expand and add many energy-saving features, as well as 30 new jobs.

Our second loan, two months later, was to the State Street Food Co-op here in Concord. At the time it was a modest street-corner operation. Now it is a bustling cooperative grocery that is a key part of South Main Street’s revitalization.

For many years, Twin Pines Cooperative Foundation (TPCF) has helped bind that thread. It is a long-time investor in the Community Loan Fund, and the largest single co-op investor in cooperative development organizations in the United States.

Its president, David J. Thompson, recently wrote an article for the Hanover Co-op's blog, The Co-op News, using New Hampshire’s example to demonstrate how three food cooperatives and their supporters are using their savings to support the resident-owned-community movement. A striking fact: Every dollar invested leverages $10 in co-op development.

It’s an interesting read, and a testament to the enduring, and mostly under the radar, power of cooperatives in the U.S.

"… The full $3 million in TPCF (Twin Pines Cooperative Foundation) funds cycles only within our family of cooperatives and leverages $30 million in total for the development of cooperatives. There are no dollars invested in the Stock Market but millions in Co-op Markets. …

"The Cooperative Community Funds of three NH food co-ops participate in the Twin Pines Cooperative Foundation, which invests in the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund, which used the funds to help residents form co-ops to buy 28 mobile home parks in the three New Hampshire counties which are served by the three food co-ops. That truly is Cooperation among Cooperatives.”

Read the full article,  Cooperation Among Cooperatives.