Working to unite, promote and strengthen
cooperative businesses across Montana
From all of us at the Montana Council of Cooperatives and the Montana Cooperative Development Center we wish you all a very Happy Holidays.

Our offices will be closed from noon on Dec. 24th through 8:00am Jan. 4th, 2021.
Celebrating 2020
Even a Pandemic didn't slow us down!

2020, the statement itself says so much, more than any other year in modern history has a State, Country, and world been more impacted. As Montana continues to find a balance within the chaos and the unknown, MCDC has expanded our network of partnerships, created new programs for existing and start-up cooperatives, expanded our Cooperative Development Network, and responded to a variety of inquiries for our services. A joint annual report of MCOC and MCDC will be released at the Annual Meeting of the Montana Council of Cooperatives (Jan. 11th-13th- see below); until then here are some key highlights to our 2020:

  • Said Happy Retirement to Marilyn Besich and welcomed new Program Director Davey Madison to the team.

  • Worked with over 44 groups exploring a cooperative model for their business, community, and economic needs. Of those, 37 are now active projects.

  • Supported the creation of 4 new cooperatives in Montana, assisted 26 existing cooperatives, and 11 non-cooperative businesses with an additional 1 business incorporated that was not a cooperative.

  • Expanded the services provided by MCDC to MCOC membership including new training materials for board development, bylaw review and revisions, and IT/website designs.

  • Canceled the Montana Cooperative Summit due to Covid-19 and instead hosted 5 webinars. If you missed our webinars they are all available at

  • We launched a new website for MCDC.

  • In process of finalizing the new website for MCOC. A review of the website and the new MCOC members' online forum will be held on January 11th, 2021 at the Annual Meeting of the Montana Council of Cooperatives

  • Hosted the 60th Montana Council of Cooperatives Annual Meeting in Great Falls.

  • Coordinated the research and analysis with the Bureau of Business and Economic Research for the 2020 Montana Cooperative Economic Impact Report. Thank you for the generous sponsorship of CHS Foundation, Montana Electric Cooperatives' Association, Montana's Credit Unions, Montana Farmers Union, and Blackfoot Communications. The Impact Report will be released prior to the legislative session- keep an eye on your emails.

  • Compiled a professional 3rd Party financial audit of the Montana Cooperative Development Center for the 2018-2019 Fiscal year. And completed the 2020-21 year-end financials. The year-end balance sheet for MCDC can be viewed here. Please note, MCOC's year-end statements are not available until January with the closing of the fiscal year on Dec. 31st, 2020.

  • Participated in a number of initiatives and partnership development project with state and federal organization including (but not limited to): Montana Family Forward (see below) and the Early Childhood Collaboration team, Montana Housing Coalition, Montana Economic Developers Association, Montana Ambassadors, Montana Meat Processing Resiliency Network, and CooperationWorks.

  • Received the 2020-21 Rural Cooperative Development Grant award for $200,000 to continue providing cooperative development services across the State of Montana.

  • Represented Montana Cooperatives at the Annual NCBA Impact Conference and numerous other conferences (in person and virtually).

  • Moved offices to a remote workforce with the main office in Great Falls and a hub office in Helena, Montana.

MCDC is a not-for-profit 501c3 incorporated in the state of Montana.
Donations from individuals like you help us complete our mission.
"To promote and develop cooperatives to meet the economic and community needs of rural Montana."

As the only statewide resource for cooperative development, MCDC works with new and existing co-ops and other groups to evaluate co-op business models and strategies to meet objectives. MCDC provides various services, including project planning, facilitation, legal assistance, board training, grant writing and administration, and more. MCDC offers many of our services at low or discounted costs for existing and new cooperatives, economic development groups, and members of the MCOC. Details on our services can be found on our website.

Please JOIN US in our efforts to continue the strong traditions of Montana Cooperatives.
Montana Council of Cooperatives

Notice of Annual Meeting

January 11th, 2021 to January 14th, 2021
Live streaming from Helena

Donations are Appreciated

Limited to 15 people due to COVID
First 15 to sign up.

Room Block at Delta Hotel in Helena

Challenges and Opportunities for Grocers in Rural and Tribal Communities

MCDC is releasing the Montana Food Distribution Study in partnership with the National Center for Appropriate Technology and the Native American Development Corporation. This study was funded through a USDA Socially Disadvantaged Group Grant.

The study is meant to promote the development of distribution cooperatives, food hub cooperatives, and sustainability of Montana Food Systems. However, thank you to the great work of Linda Howard and Mariah Gladstone there is a wealth of information for many different organizations working on securing our food systems. We are not in this alone and have a series of partners that we are working with. The study can be used as needed. However, we appreciate, if you use the study to send us an email so we can share the reach with USDA.

MCDC is looking forward to working with the producer groups, community gardens, grocers, and communities interested in food hub development. There is a lot of activity in our office on these topics. Adding value and feeding Montana by Montana is a key goal of ours and we are grateful to all who are working on this with us.

If you have a project you would like to discuss please email our Program Director, Davey Madison.
MCDC is sharing information from our counterparts in Kansas on a webinar series coming up. Across Montana, we are getting calls related to grocery stores moving from private owned (ma&pa) businesses to community cooperative ownership. For those interested, this should be a great series and one that our staff will be attending. You can attend one or all, and the best part... it is FREE!

Please note- other states have different laws than Montana on the incorporation of cooperatives. MCDC is available to help walk through any differences. We believe that this webinar series is of value as the business management and marketing remains the same regardless of State Statues.
Keeping Groceries Alive:
Successful Ownership Transitions for Rural Grocery Stores

Starting Thursday, January 28, 2021, thru
Thursday, March 18th, 2021

12:30p.m.-3:30p.m. MST (each day)

The Rural Grocery Business Transition Project is presenting an 8-part webinar series that will help you understand your options and the process of transition to new ownership. In many cases, some form of community ownership can provide a viable opportunity for maintaining a vibrant grocery store. Use the same link to register for all 8 webinars in the series.
Webinar Schedule:
Jan. 28: Grocery Business Transition Planning: An Overview
Feb. 4: Understanding Grocery Ownership Models
Feb. 11: Preparing for Business Transition
Feb. 18: Assessing Markets & Community Needs
Feb. 25: Planning your Business
Mar. 4: Funding the Transition
Mar. 11: Recruiting Store Managers
Mar. 18: Mastering Grocery Store Nuts & Bolts
A Look at Childcare in Montana and
Launching of Family Forward

MCDC has been an active partner in the Early Childhood Collaboration efforts lead by our friends at Zero to Five Montana. Exploring the option of Childcare Cooperatives has been and continues to be a hot topic at MCDC. We are excited about the launch of the Family Forward Initiative. We encourage our Montana Cooperatives to explore the resources at Zero To Five to learn how cooperatives can take the lead in creating a family-friendly work environment.

In addition, the Bureau of Business and Economic Research has completed the "Lost Possibilities: The Impacts of Inadequate Child Care on Montana’s Families, Employers, and Economy". This is a hard look at the status of childcare in Montana and the economic impact this is having on our economy. In addition, the Montana Department of Labor and Industry in partnership with the Federal Reserve Bank completed the "Impacts of Childcare on Montana's Workforce".

Thank you to Zero to Five for the video on Childcare Cooperatives in Montana!
Contact your Regional
Cooperative Development Specialist
To find your CDS visit our website:
If you would like us to post your upcoming co-op events or information in the Montana Cooperative Update send event information to: