Cooperative Development Services

The Mission Mountain Cooperative Development Center brings resources and education to existing and developing cooperatives within the western region of Montana. Our center assists groups in:

  • Project Planning
  • Group Facilitation
  • Legal Document Assistance
  • Finding and Applying for Funding Assistance
  • Operating or Capitalization Strategies
  • Grant Writing Assistance
  • Professional Referrals
  • Board Training


If you have questions about cooperatives and the services that we offer, please contact Cooperative Development Program Manager Brianna Ewert at 406-676-5901 ext. 124. 



Cooperative Principles

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All cooperative businesses strive to meet these guidelines. Because co-ops are member-owned, there is a much greater focus on democracy, providing assistance, and open communication than in other business structures.


1. Voluntary and Open Membership: Non-discriminatory membership open to all who are able to benefit from and assume the responsibilities of membership.

2. Democratic Member Control: Members own and govern the Cooperative. All co-ops operate under the guidelines of one member, one vote. 

3. Member Economic Participation: Members contribute equitably to the capital of their cooperative either through purchasing memberships or via equity campaigns.

4. Autonomy and Independence: Cooperatives are autonomous, self-help organizations, which are controlled by their members.

5. Education, Training and Information: Cooperatives provide education and training for their members, directors and staff so that they may effectively run the cooperative. They inform the public about the nature and benefits of cooperatives.

6. Cooperation Among Cooperatives: Cooperatives serve their members most effectively by working together.

7. Concern for Community: Cooperatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies approved by their members.




Client Success Stories

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The cooperative development center at LCCDC has assisted numerous groups start and operate their ventures. We are excited to work with such a diverse group of passionate cooperatives members, managers, and boards of directors. The following are a few examples of the cooperatives we have been involved with:


  • The Western Montana Growers Cooperative started in 2003 with less than 10 farmers. Their mission is to provide aggregation and distribution services to member-owners to increase their collective market reach.  WMGC now has 40 farmers, processes thousands of pounds of produce annually at MMFEC, has a 150 member multi-farm CSA, and has reached over $1 million in sales. WMGC recently completed a move to Missoula, which gives them  a lot more room to grow! 
  • The Montana Poultry Growers Cooperative legally incorporated in 2006. Their mission is to "develop local and regional food economies by providing resources that catalyze the product and processing of poultry in Montana."  

Western Montana Growers Co-op slogan



Cooperative Development Resources & Case Studies

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Case Studies and Articles

Western Montana Growers Cooperative Case Study

Local is Delicious - Case Study of the WMGC (pdf)

WMGC Partner Report (pdf)   


  Check out the following links to learn more about the cooperative approach!

The University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives is one of the best places to go to learn about everything co-op.

USDA Rural Development offers a large section about agricultural, utility, and marketing cooperatives.

The National Cooperative Business Association brings together people from all co-op sectors.


Here are a few articles answering common co-op questions, including where the capital for start-up comes from and how democratic control works:

Steps and Decisions for Starting a Co-op (pdf)

Considering Cooperation: A Guide to Starting a Co-op (pdf)

Financing a Cooperative (pdf)

Cooperative Equity and Ownership (pdf)

Co-op Member Loans (pdf)

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