Minnesota leads nation in cooperatives
ST. PAUL Minnesota again leads the nation in cooperatives -- businesses where the members are also the owners. A national survey Tuesday said Minnesota is home to four of the Top 10 cooperatives in the nation. Three others also made the Top 100 l...
Minnesota again leads the nation in cooperatives -- businesses where the members are also the owners.
A national survey Tuesday said Minnesota is home to four of the Top 10 cooperatives in the nation. Three others also made the Top 100 list released by NCB, a bank for cooperatives.
-- Farm and energy cooperative CHS Inc., based in Inver Grove Heights, ranked as the nation's largest cooperative with annual revenue of $25 billion.
-- Dairy and farmer cooperative Land O'Lakes, based in Arden Hills, ranked as the nation's second largest, with $11 billion in revenue.
-- Agricultural lender Agri-Bank, based in St. Paul, ranked No. 8, with nearly $4 billion in revenue.
-- And health insurer HealthPartners, based in Bloomington, ranked No. 10 with $3.5 billion in revenue.
"We're always pleased to be recognized on the list," said CHS spokesperson Lani Jordan. "But really, what pleases us more is the recognition that this list provides for all of the cooperatives and the role they play in agriculture and many other important business sectors."
Why is Minnesota such fertile ground for the nation's most prosperous cooperatives? Experts cite the rural traditions in this region, where isolated farmers had a long history of banding together to improve their economic clout.
"What we did here in Minnesota was what our cousins were doing back in Europe, which was to form co-ops when we had a market problem," said Lee Egerstrom, economic development fellow at think tank Minnesota 2020. "People banded together to overcome them."
These days, the cooperative structure is found across many businesses, from credit unions to hardware stores to electric companies. But agriculture co-ops remain the most common.
Egerstrom noted that Minnesota's cooperatives also grew mighty because they tended to avoid some of the ownership battles that can engulf corporations.
"They tend to survive," Egerstrom said. "They're not easy to be acquired by some investment groups that want to come in. And the other thing is, because they're member-governed, they don't take an awful lot of wild, crazy chances. That doesn't mean they all survive."
Beyond the top 10, three other Minnesota co-ops also were on the NCB 100 list.
New Ulm-based dairy cooperative AMPI ranked No. 24, with $1.7 billion in revenue.
American Crystal Sugar, based in Moorhead, ranked No. 39 with $1.2 billion in revenue. And Great River Energy, based in Maple Grove, ranked No. 58 with $847 million in revenue.
Minnesota has seven cooperatives on the list, as does Texas. Illinois, Iowa and Virginia each have six. See the full list at coop100.coop.
Distributed by MCT Information Services