You’re in good company with co-ops

Neighbors helping neighbors to create a better world

Posted on Jan 21 2024 in Jay County REMC
Neil Draper

People often ask, “What’s in it for me?” This is a fair question, as we all need to act in our self-interest now and then. The great thing about coops is that instead of asking, “What’s in it for me?” we say, “This is what’s in it for us.”

When the market refuses to offer a good or service or does so at a high price, co-ops step in to fill the void. Cooperatives identify members of the community who have the same self-interests and bring them together to make a cooperative decision.

When Jay County REMC was formed over 85 years ago, the folks in our community shared at least one self-interest –– they wanted electricity. Many Americans who lived in rural parts of the country needed electricity, which is why electric cooperatives were created. Individuals acted in their own self-interest, but that self-interest led to the community and economic development of the rural areas in which they lived. Today, rural electric co-ops serve over 42 million people in 47 states.

It is good to know that your friends and neighbors are also your co-owners of Jay County REMC. People coming together to meet a particular need is at the heart of every type of co-op. Local credit unions bring financial services to people that banks do not want to serve. In urban areas and college communities, housing co-ops offer people a safe, reliable, and affordable place to live. Many agricultural co-ops started as a way to get their products to market, whether it was oranges (Sunkist), dairy (Land O’Lakes), grapes (Welch’s), organic milk (Organic Valley), or any of the hundreds of other food products that co-ops bring to our table every day.

Many people who owned small businesses realized they also had a common self-interest — stay in business. So, they formed purchasing co-ops like Ace Hardware and True Value to compete with big-box stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s.

Today, it is estimated that more than 40% of all residents in the U.S. are members of at least one co-op. Worldwide, well over 1 billion people are counted as co-op members.

Every time you turn on the lights, it can serve as a reminder that as a co-op member, you are in good company with your local neighbors and people worldwide.