Friday, April 11, 2014

Westlock Terminals New Generation Cooperative: A Case Study

This is a bit out of date now, but worth reading to grasp how one community used local community investment and the cooperative model to finance retention of a community asset. Westlock Terminals is now one of the most successful of its kind.

Source: Westlock News

In 2002, Tawatinaw Community Futures (CF) and Miller Thompson Legal Services assisted in the formation of the Westlock Grain Terminals New Generation Cooperative. Their model processes allowed the community to raise over a million dollars in local investment using a new generation cooperative share offering, and another $1.2 million in 2005 (Cabaj, 2009). The NGC allows co-operatives to raise capital within a larger network beyond their membership. It invites and permits community members, patrons, suppliers, and other groups to become involved in owning local economic resources. However, unless they are a member, investors (shareholders) cannot vote on matters related to the co-operative, although the Management Board includes some respected local business people. The same model of local investment through a NGC was used by Battle River to raise $3.5 million for the purchase of a short-line railway - the Battle River Railway (Barney, 2011, 2012a, 2012b). Both community assets, the grain terminal and the railway, were owned by large corporations outside the community, and were under threat to be closed by these corporations.

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