THURSDAY, JULY 12, 2:00 pm,
Local Co-ops Honored by County Legislature for International Year of Cooperatives

Left to right: Kelly Maurer (Fed. Cooperative Credit Union and Pirate Farmers); Jamie (Energy Co-op of America), Legislator Tom Mazur; Tim Bartlett (Lexington Co-op); Patti (Urban Roots), Henry (Nickel City) and Mary Aiken (East Aurora Cooperative Market)
Photo courtesy of Princess Photography.

Erie County is joining the City of Buffalo and a number of communities in the United States and the world in celebrating the International Year of Cooperatives by honoring local Co-ops with a Proclamation this Thursday. Buffalo adopted a similar proclamation this past June.

A Resolution on the International Year of Cooperatives was passed by the United Nations General Assembly to raise awareness of the important role cooperatives play in the economic well-being and development of both developing and developed societies.

  • More than 29,000 cooperatives operate in the United States, generating two million jobs and annual sales of $652 billion.
  • More than 7,500 credit unions provide financial services to 91 million US consumers.
  • More than 900 rural electric co-ops deliver electricity to more than 42 million people in 47 states. This makes up 42% of the nation’s electric distribution lines and covers 75% of our country’s land mass.
  • Food co-ops have been innovators in the areas of unit pricing, consumer protection, organic and bulk foods and nutritional labeling.
  • More than 50,000 families in the US use cooperative day care centers, giving co-ops a crucial role in the care of our children.
  • In the United States, more than 1.2 million families of all income levels live in homes owned and operated through cooperative associations.
  • The majority of our country’s 2 million farmers are members of the nearly 3,000 farmer-owned cooperatives. They provide over 250,000 jobs and annual wages of over $8 billion.

In Erie County, a conservative estimate of local cooperative members exceeds 12,000 people.

Erie County’s cooperatives include the Buffalo’s Lexington and East Aurora’s food cooperatives, a number of credit unions, including the Buffalo Cooperative Federal Credit Union; Nickel City Housing Cooperative, the Pirate Farmers Co-op, Urban Roots nursery cooperative and the Energy Cooperative of America, all of which will have representatives present to receive copies of the County proclamation.

Cooperatives are entrepreneurial business models that emphasize local control and embody the principles of open membership, member democratic control, economic participation, autonomy, education, cooperation among cooperatives and concern for community. They include consumer, manufacturing, production and worker-owned businesses.

Local cooperatives tend to keep dollars circulating within the local community, and share a keen concern for serving the local community. The recent resurgence of co-ops is seen by many as an indication of how the co-op business model has the ability to survive and thrive even during difficult economic times.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, speaking on the International Year of Cooperatives 2012, stated, “Cooperatives are a reminder to the international community that it is possible to pursue both economic viability and social responsibility. “

For further information on Cooperatives:

• A short 3 minute presentation on the International Year of Cooperatives:
• National Cooperative Business Association information on types of cooperatives:
• International Cooperative Alliance explanation of cooperative principles:

For further information on local cooperatives:

Lexington Co-operative Market: Celebrating its 40th anniversary as a consumer-owned co-op on Buffalo’s West side, Lexington specializes in local, organic and seasonal foods. Voted Buffalo’s best natural foods store for 9 straight years by Artvoice readers, in 2012 Lexington was recognized as one of WNY’s fastest growing companies by Business First Magazine.
Energy Cooperative of America: Energy Cooperative is member-owned and provides discounts to both commercial and residential utility customers in New York and Pennsylvania. Since 1997 Energy Cooperative has saved its members over $29 million.
Buffalo Cooperative Federal Credit Union: A financial institution that knows its members and whose mission is to improve the lives of ordinary people. The BCFCU is incorporated under federal law and provides a place where members can conduct their finances in a fair, balanced, and supportive environment.
Nickel City Housing Cooperative: Since 2001 Nickel City has provided opportunities for affordable community living based on principles of collectivity and sharing.
Urban Roots: A community garden center, Urban Roots was formed by a group of gardeners who wanted to improve their neighborhood and city and recognized the opportunity for building a sustainable business five minutes from any yard on Garden Walk
Farmer Pirates Cooperative: A cooperative of urban farmers currently farming on the East Side of Buffalo, who share knowledge and equipment and buy supplies together in bulk.
East Aurora Cooperative Market: Formed by a group of individuals who joined together to establish a cooperatively owned and managed food market in the Southtowns. A success story in the making, East Aurora Co-op already has 650 member-owners and is scouting locations to open their first store sometime next year.
Fancy and Delicious Bakery: The latest start-up workers cooperative in Buffalo, Fancy and Delicious will produce artisan bread baked with local and organic ingredients starting this summer.