Nebraska Cooperative Development Center Announces Mini-Grant Funding

Cornhusker Economics March 18, 2020
Nebraska Cooperative Development Center Announces Mini-Grant Funding

By Charlotte Narjes

Since 1999, the Nebraska Cooperative Development Center (NCDC) has provided technical assistance, education and training to groups who are developing or are considering the development of a cooperatively owned business. The primary objective is to improve the economic condition of rural areas through cooperative business development. Nebraska Cooperative Development Center Logo

About Cooperatives

Cooperatives are user-owned and user-controlled businesses formed to benefit a group of members. Cooperatives are designed to reward use, encourage users to commit to using the services, and encourage users to voice opinions about how the business is doing.

USDA describes the strength of a multi-owner or cooperative business model as the power of a group of people working together, sharing their individual talents and experiences, to build a successful business. People build cooperatives. Cooperatives build jobs, trust, communities, opportunity and hope. Cooperatives provide 2.1 million jobs in the United States and create annual wages of more than $75 billion. Cooperatives help build a better world and a better Nebraska

Oftentimes in economics, cooperatives are described to be formed for a market failure. That may be the case, but that failure creates an opportunity to work together. Working together is a Nebraska way of doing things. The Ag Cooperatives were first formed to address a marketing need.

Cooperatives Can Be a Solution to Your Community

Are you concerned that a business in your community, like your grocery store, restaurant or daycare, will not transition into the future? Your community can save these businesses and minimize the risk by working together. NCDC has worked in a number of communities to establish cooperatives including cooperative grocery stores.

The benefits of having a community-owned business include:

  • They help maintain the character and quality of life in a community.
  • The local ownership gives those who utilize the service the opportunity to make decisions affecting the business.
  • A valuable service is provided to the community such as food or childcare
  • Community members all share the risk and can better adapt to changing circumstances.

Cooperatives are generally created for the following reasons:

  • To provide a service or need in the community
  • To improve bargaining power
  • To reduce costs
  • To obtain products or services otherwise unavailable
  • To expand new and existing market opportunities
  • To increase income
  • To minimize risk

NCDC can help your group through the cooperative development process. This process includes:

  • Exploring the possibility and organizing
  • Assessing feasibility and planning
  • Implementation

 Visit the NCDC site for information on the types of cooperatives.

NCDC Announces Mini-Grant Funding

The Mini-Grant Program is for groups pursuing cooperative enterprises to assist in expanding reach as well as to help groups move forward. Mini-grant awards are a maximum of $2,500 per request. Groups may apply to Initial Development Assistance and Advanced Development Assistance. Both grants are competitive and reviewed by the NCDC Advisory board.

  • Initial Development Assistance grants are designed for groups who are in the exploratory stages of the development of a multi-ownership business or a cooperative. Up to $2,500 is available per request. 
  • Advanced Assistance grants are designed to provide incorporated multi-owner businesses or cooperatives the ability to hire professional services for the development of their cooperative or multi-owner business. These services may include attorney fees, accounting fees, and/or the development of marketing materials. Up to $2,500 is available per request.  

Non-profits, partnerships, or sole proprietorship businesses, as well as businesses located in Omaha, Bellevue, Lincoln or Grand Island, are not eligible.

Examples of eligible activities are accounting assistance, creation of marketing materials, legal fees for incorporation, education and training. Ineligible activities include salaries, purchasing equipment, buildings and/or real estate.  Visit for more information. The deadline to apply for these competitive grants is April 13, 2020. 

Follow this link to the mini-grant application or copy and paste this URL into your internet browser:

NCDC in Midst of COVID-19

NCDC is a program of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Department of Agricultural Economics and Nebraska Extension. Nebraska Extension is committed to the health and well-being of Nebraskans. In a disease situation likeCOVID-19, the principle of social distancing is one of the main methods that can be used to help reduce the spread of the disease.

Chancellor Ronnie Green at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has issued guidance that all UNL classes will move to remote modes (video or teleconferencing). To be consistent with that guidance, Nebraska Extension will provide Extension programs remotely when possible but will not provide in-person Extension programs through May 9. Based on our current mandate, we have canceled or postponed all Nebraska Cooperative Development Center and Buy Fresh Buy Local “in-person” events from March 14th through May 9.

NCDC Can Meet Virtually

NCDC can meet with you virtually to explore the possibilities, assess feasibilities and implementation. NCDC has zoom capabilities and we can coordinate and organize group meetings to explore the possibilities of a cooperative. Each participant can join in the comfort of their home. We are also available to meet one-on-one via zoom or over the phone. NCDC is also working to update the NCDC website with links to relevant information to COVID-19.

The cooperative model focuses on working together for common goals. People build cooperatives. Cooperatives build jobs, trust, communities, opportunity and hope.

Nebraska Cooperative Development Center Contacts

Charlotte Narjes, Extension Educator CVI/NCDC Associate Director, 402-472-1724

Cindy Houlden, Cooperative Business Development Specialist, 308-293-6417 (cell)

Skylar Falter, Local Foods Cooperative Business Development Specialist/Buy Fresh Buy Local Nebraska, 402-472-5273

We look forward to cooperatively working with you!



Charlotte Narjes
Nebraska Cooperative Development center
Department of Agricultural Economics
University of Nebraska-Lincoln 402-472-1724