If it sounds unusual for a credit union to be part owner of a co-op, that’s because it is. Vermont statute allows state-chartered credit unions to invest directly into other credit unions and cooperatives both inside and outside of Vermont. Similar legislation exists in seven other states including Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, and New Mexico, although few credit unions know about it.
After Matt Cropp, a VSECU member and executive director of the Vermont Employee Ownership Center, brought the statute to the credit union’s attention, VSECU created Co-Op Capital, a program aimed at supporting the development of cooperatives with long-term capital investment.
Since the program’s launch in 2016, VESCU has invested in a worker-owned cooperative herbal clinic, a startup commercial hydroponic greenhouse, and, most recently, Springfield Food Co-op. So far, VSECU has invested $148,000 through Co-Op Capital.