The Austin Cooperative Summit brought together more than 100 people interested in cooperative businesses to help move the Central Texas economy toward shared abundance and prosperity. The summit is a program of the Austin Cooperative Business Association and NCBA CLUSA.
The opening reception included presentations from NCBA CLUSA CEO Mike Beall, Texas Electric Cooperatives CEO Mike Williams, and Executive VP of the National Co-op Bank Steven Brookner, who talked about their experience in the cooperative movement and the value their organizations bring to members and the communities they serve. Many cooperatives shared their work and products at the reception, including Equal Exchange, Wheatsville Food Co-op, Black Star Co-op, Cooperation Texas, Red Rabbit Cooperative Bakery, KOOP Radio, Artists Screen Printing Cooperative, Amplify Credit Union, and Community Housing Expansion of Austin.
The conference itself featured presentations about cooperatives in the food system and an introduction to the many types of cooperatives and resources available to help cooperatives start and expand in Texas. The keynote presentation was by Dr. John Park, the Roy G. Davis Chair at Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. Dr. Park helped everyone understand the way our food system works and the important role cooperatives play to bring food from farms to our tables. A panel discussion about opportunities for cooperatives in the local food movement identified many ways cooperatives can provide solutions to get fresh local food to consumers in Central Texas.
The summit wound up with an excellent dinner at the Sustainable Food Center that was enjoyed by all who attended. The dinner was prepared by Black Star chef Johnny Livesay. Austin Cooperative Business Association Executive Director Brian Donovan said, “The summit identified opportunities to expand the cooperative economy here in Central Texas and showcased many of the cooperative businesses thriving in our region. All the feedback was positive. We are already thinking about how it can be even better next year.”
Brian Donovan is the Executive Director of the Austin Cooperative Business Association
[Editor's note: here is Jim Hightower's entertaining and informative keynote address from last year's (2013) Austin Co-op Summit. Enjoy!]
Brian Donovan (2014). Report from the 2014 Austin Co-op Summit. Grassroots Economic Organizing (GEO). https://geo.coop/story/report-2014-austin-co-op-summit