Vermont Business Magazine VSECU announced today a commitment to foster and grow Vermont’s cooperative economy through strategic equity investments in local cooperative organizations. VSECU (Vermont State Employees Credit Union) will make these strategic investments through Co-op Capital, a new initiative that marks the latest project under the credit union’s vision to bring people together to empower possibilities for greater financial, environmental, and social prosperity. The primary goal of Co-op Capital is to drive significant growth within Vermont’s cooperative economy and positively impact VSECU’s local communities. Accordingly, in addition to weighing the financial viability of its cooperative partners, VSECU will also consider the social impact of the co-ops it chooses to invest in through this program.
VSECU CEO Rob Miller explains the credit union's new Co-op Capital program at the Association of Vermont Credit Union's annual conference. VSECU photo.
“By placing an emphasis on cooperative development, VSECU aims to grow a sustainable, locally-owned, and -controlled sector of the economy,” said Rob Miller, CEO of VSECU. “As a cooperative ourselves, one of our guiding principles is to support the cooperative community. But these investments are also designed to foster more vibrant local economies for our members and for all Vermonters.”
VSECU worked closely with its member-elected Board of Directors to establish a cooperative equity investing policy, allowable through Vermont statute, that empowers the credit union to invest in the equity of cooperatives. The equity investments through Co-op Capital will help fuel growth in the cooperative sector, while diversifying VSECU’s existing investment portfolio and enabling the credit union to invest in cooperative organizations of all types.
“Co-ops play such a crucial role in our society, and credit unions offer the scale and resources to really expand the co-op model in the US, which is why I’m so excited to see VSECU step up and help support growth in this area of the economy,” said Matthew Cropp, a co-op movement organizer, and Program and Outreach Coordinator for the Vermont Employee Ownership Center. “As one of only a handful of states that empower credit unions to make such important investments, Vermont has the opportunity to be a real leader here.”
Cooperative organizations have been shown to contribute positively to community development, with research from the University of Wisconsin (2005) finding they build human, social and financial capital within a community. Additionally, they help support a dynamic, stable economy through local ownership and patronage. As with all locally-owned businesses, the community retains a larger share of the wealth generated by its constituents – and the cooperative model ensures that wealth is equitably distributed across member-owners. Failure rates for cooperatives are approximately 85 percent lower than those of traditional businesses, according to data from the World Council of Credit Unions (2007), illustrating the sustainability of this model.
"We believe that we have a responsibility to enhance our members’ communities, and in turn enhance our members’ lives,” said Miller. “That responsibility is the driving force behind Co-op Capital, along with the community and economic development initiatives we’ve introduced over the last year, such as powering the local business investment platform Milk Money, supporting the development of Bennington’s co-working space The Lightning Jar, and numerous community giving initiatives.”
For more information and details on how cooperatives can apply for a capital investment visit vsecu.com/coopcapital.
Source: MONTPELIER, VT, MAY 13, 2016 — VSECU. VSECU is a member-owned cooperative and not for profit credit union for everybody who lives and works in Vermont, offering a full range of affordable financial products and services to its member-owners. VSECU is committed to improving the lives of Vermonters by empowering the possibilities for greater social, environmental, and financial prosperity. For more information about VSECU, call 802/800 371-5162 or visit www.vsecu.com.