Rural Missouri - June 2017 - 5
H A RT TO H E A RT
Partnering for jobs
by Barry Hart | email@example.com
ack when I worked for my local electric
cooperative - Platte-Clay - one of my chief
responsibilities was economic development.
It didn't take long to ﬁgure out that success
in bringing jobs to rural Missouri required a partnership. It also became clear that the state's electric
cooperatives were in a unique position to help.
Electric cooperatives from the beginning were
instrumental in bringing new businesses and
industry to their service areas. When there was no
electricity for rural America, businesses were forced
to locate in the cities. That all changed when power
lines were energized beyond the city limits.
Today, we call these commercial and industrial
members "key accounts." Most electric cooperatives
have a person on staff whose job is to work with
these key accounts, helping them prosper.
One way they do this is by helping them lower
their electric bills. Energy efﬁciency programs coordinated through power supplier Associated Electric
Cooperative have brought money-saving lighting to
these large users of electricity, saving them thousands of dollars in overhead costs.
One of the most successful job-creation programs available to electric cooperatives is the Rural
Economic Development Loan and Grant Program,
better known as REDLGS. Through this USDA
Rural Development program, electric cooperatives
have channeled millions of dollars into rural areas.
These funds have built new hospitals, funded
community centers, helped businesses expand and,
most recently, allowed a community college to create a workforce training center.
These days, it is almost impossible to land new
jobs without high-speed internet service. Several
electric cooperatives have launched ﬁber-optic service that has brought the world to the doorstep of
local businesses large and small.
In fact, the Moniteau County Regional Economic
Development Council has identiﬁed Co-Mo Electric
Cooperative's gigabit internet service as its No. 1
strength to encourage economic development in the
Transmission co-ops in Missouri have built ﬁber
optic networks to connect their substations. These
networks also are being used as a "middle mile"
backbone that others can use to bring high-speed
internet to the end user. It's helped counties create
video courts to keep dangerous criminals behind
bars. It's helped banks install ATMs in rural areas,
brought 4G cell phone service, made possible rural
telemedicine and reduced the digital divide between
rural and urban schools.
Missouri's electric cooperatives have been working with the Federal Communications Commission
to secure funding for rural internet from the Connect America Fund. We have been aided in this
effort by Gov. Eric Greitens, the entire Missouri
Congressional delegation and U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt.
These leaders recognize the challenge of bringing
high-speed internet to some parts of the state and
have signed letters asking President Trump to make
these funds available to electric cooperatives.
Tourism is another area where electric cooperatives have helped improve the local economy.
Sometimes this is as simple as supporting fairs and
festivals that bring thousands of visitors into rural
areas, stimulating the economy. In other cases,
electric cooperatives have upgraded electric service
at a state park or RV campground so visitors are
comfortable on the hottest summer days. They also
have partnered with the Conservation Federation of
Missouri to improve wildlife habitat, knowing that
one of Missouri's best tourism assets is hunting and
You will ﬁnd electric cooperative employees serving as leaders for local chambers of commerce and
on the rosters of service clubs throughout the state.
Across Missouri, many electric cooperative members can count on good paying jobs close to home
thanks to the work done behind the scenes by their
This effort is second nature to the men and women working every day to improve the quality of life
for rural people.
Hart is executive vice president of the Association
of Missouri Electric Cooperatives.
Sharing cooperative success
strive to be a good partner, in the best cooperative the No Barriers Warriors program. As they return to
tradition dating back to those weavers in Roch- civilian life, some veterans struggle to rebuild their
ne of the earliest cooperative enterprises dale. To that end, we have a robust corporate social lives. Physical or mental afﬂictions due to their serwas a store started by weavers in the town responsibility program focused on engaging closely vice may increase this difﬁculty.
The No Barriers program uses outdoor expediof Rochdale, England, in 1844. As a way with and supporting those communities we serve.
In 2016, CoBank contributed more than $250,000 tions and experiences to challenge them so they
to deﬁne the characteristics of this newcan better adjust to their new future.
to nonproﬁts throughout
er type of organization, the Rochdale
CoBank will sponsor as many as 50
Missouri, including the
weavers drew up a set of principles for
veterans from rural areas across the
cooperatives to live by. The seventh,
U.S. to participate in the program in
of the Ozarks, the Boys &
ﬁnal, and arguably most important of
2017. Cooperatives and other eligible
Girls Clubs of Springﬁeld
these was "Concern for Community."
CoBank borrowers are able to nomiand the Lives Under ConLike the entities that bring electricnate veterans from their local commustruction Boys Ranch in
ity to your homes, CoBank is strucnities, with CoBank covering the full
tured as a co-op and is proud to
cost for each veteran, including travel
In addition, we proembrace this principle of concern for
vided nearly $100,000
The very nature of a cooperative
An integral member of the Farm
lends itself to working with one's
through our Sharing SucCredit System, CoBank is a missionneighbors and colleagues for the comcess program, which probased lender focused on rural America,
mon good. At CoBank, we're proud
vides matching contribuproviding credit and other value-added
to live out that principle right here in
tions for donations made
ﬁnancial services to agriculture and
Missouri. Like those weavers in 19thby
cusrural infrastructure businesses. As a
century England, CoBank is comtomers. Last year, some of
cooperative, we are owned by our borrowers, and our job is to serve their ﬁnancial needs the Missouri nonproﬁts that we supported through mitted to living out our concern for community in
this program included the Area Youth Beneﬁt Fund meaningful ways. We urge all cooperative members
in all market conditions.
As a lender, we support nearly 30 rural electric in Chillicothe, the Dallas County Fair in Buffalo and to do the same.
cooperatives in Missouri, with more than $235 mil- the Ray-Carroll County Grain Growers Scholarship
Kaiser and Good are relationship managers with
lion in outstanding loans to electric distribution Fund in Richmond.
We also know that serving the community responsibility for the state of Missouri for CoBank, a
cooperatives. But CoBank's commitment to rural
communities goes beyond ﬁnancing and includes extends to more than ﬁnancial support. To that end, $126 billion cooperative bank based in Greenwood
investing through charitable giving. In this way, we CoBank has begun sponsoring rural veterans for Village, Colorado.
by Graham Kaiser & Jake Good | firstname.lastname@example.org
JUNE 2017 | RURALMISSOURI.COOP