Sunday, September 16, 2012

Support Funding for Food Coops

The National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA) has been working with the Small Business Administration (SBA) to expedite the reinterpretation of regulations that prohibit food cooperatives from accessing SBA lending programs. Since the White House Community Leaders briefing in May, NCBA has continued the dialogue with SBA and the White House—making progress on this issue. We need SBA to hear from the cooperative community that this is an important issue. Now is the time for YOUR VOICE to be heard! Please download a draft letter or send the copy below via email SBA Administrator Karen Mills. Feel free to add your personal story regarding the inability and need for your cooperative to access the SBA lending programs. Additionally, please email a copy of the letter to NCBA Director of Public Policy R.L. Condra to provide copies of all letters to the White House. The time is now to move this issue forward, please send your letter by Sept. 21. Sincerely, Liz Bailey Interim President and CEO National Cooperative Business Association SAMPLE LETTER The Honorable Karen Mills Administrator U.S. Small Business Administration 409 3rd Street, SW Washington, DC 20416 Dear Administrator Mills: We are writing to ask the Small Business Administration (SBA) to expedite the reinterpretation of regulations that prohibit food cooperatives from accessing SBA lending programs. Consistent with the Administration’s commitment to removing unnecessary regulatory barriers for small businesses, we believe that a reinterpretation of the existing SBA regulation is in order, and we ask you to publicly commit to such a reinterpretation as soon as possible. While today’s food cooperative community may have evolved from 1960s-era buying clubs, today they are tax-paying, incorporated businesses that contribute more than 12,000 jobs and $1.4 billion in annual sales to local economies throughout the United States. In addition to being stable members of local business communities, food cooperatives provide the consuming public with an important source of locally produced healthy food. And, just like small businesses everywhere, they need access to capital for growth and expansion. In the last three years, an impressive 61 food cooperatives have opened for business, and several hundred more are in varying stages of planning and organization. These are small businesses, local employers, grounded in local economies. Even in their first years of operation, these new cooperatives will be the source of hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars in annual sales. Yet none of these new small businesses were able to apply for SBA lending because of the prevailing interpretation of the SBA regulation. We need a resolution to this matter that clarifies the fact that food cooperatives meet the eligibility standards for SBA lending. Thank you for your attention to this important issue. The United Nations has designated 2012 as the International Year of Cooperatives and the U.S. cooperative community annually celebrates October as Co-op Month. We can think of no better way to celebrate both occasions in October 2012 than with a public announcement by the SBA that the barriers to food cooperative eligibility for SBA lending are being removed. Sincerely,

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