map of cooperatives in midwest

Collective Action in Rural Communities

Collective Action in Rural Communities: Mapping Opportunities for Cooperative Conversion and Start-­up is a four-year research and extension project funded by the National Institute for Agriculture’s Agriculture Food Research Initiative. The goal of the project is to enhance opportunities for rural cooperative entrepreneurship by providing decision-­making tools and research-­based information to cooperative and economic developers, rural entrepreneurs, and policy makers.

Project activities include:

  • Map existing cooperatives, recent cooperative start-ups, and conversions
  • Identify clusters of robust cooperative activity in the United States
  • Study environments that support cooperative development in each cluster and share lessons learned in case studies
  • Create and disseminate mapping and assessment tools for use by regional cooperative and economic development centers

National Cooperative Resource Ecosystem Map

The National Cooperative Resource Ecosystem Map is interactive and includes cooperative developers and associations, co-op friendly capital, attorneys, and state statutes. PDFs of state and national resources compiled by resource type are available.

photo of map of the United States highlighting Wisconsin with cooperative resources available

Cooperative Start-ups

We identified approximately 900 cooperatives that incorporated between 2011 and 2019. The locations of start-up cooperatives from our 2011-2016 survey (pictured) informed our selection of cooperative clusters to study further.


We identified five clusters of robust cooperative start-up activity in rural communities. Cluster analysis is underway. Case studies of each cluster will be available soon.

For more information about this project, please contact Esther West at