PACA Conference a Success

On June 13th, Drexel University along with the Philadelphia Area Cooperative Alliance hosted a one-day academic conference, analyzing Philadelphia's co-ops in comparison with co-ops in Madison, WI.  KCFC was one of the case studies.

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Approximately 200 people were in attendance, including several local leaders in city government, local area non-profits, and of course lots of co-op members. The comparisons led to really fascinating discussion about the similarities and differences between co-ops in the two cities, and I was glad to see that it sparked a lot of creative thinking about how we can raise the number of cooperative businesses operating in Philadelphia. Three keynote speakers blew our minds. One in particular, Gar Alperovitz challenged the co-op movement to think big and to address the serious problems we are facing as a country, and reminded us that there are 400 individuals who have more wealth in this country than the bottom combined. These statistics don't cease to be shocking, and they don't cease to be a problem. 

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But fortunately, co-ops are an alternative to the polarization of our economy, because service, rather than profit, is the main objective for co-ops. The Mayor of Madison came to tell us about the long history of co-ops in his city and the productive relationship between co-op businesses and local government. Philadelphia's own Congressman Fattah talked about the National Cooperative Development Act, a piece of legislation he introduced to fund cooperatives in underserved communities. Five KCFC members played a key role in making this conference happen, and we all really enjoyed the opportunity to learn and interact with our local co-op movement.

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