Iowa Alliance for Cooperative Business Development Receives USDA Grant to Improve Rural Economic Conditions



Keri Jacobs, Economics, (515) 294-6780,
Darren Jarboe, Center for Crops Utilization Research, (515) 294-2342,
Jeni Maiers, Center for Crops Utilization Research, (515) 294-6197,
Kristin Senty, Economics, (515) 294-9849,

AMES, Iowa — The Iowa State University Iowa Alliance for Cooperative Business Development (IACBD) was awarded a $175,000 rural cooperative development grant from USDA Rural Development. IACBD was one of 35 organizations selected to receive a grant to provide technical and business development assistance in rural areas.

“The USDA rural cooperative development grant funds the creation and delivery of programming important to rural cooperatives in Iowa and the United States,” said Keri Jacobs, assistant professor of economics and lead investigator on the grant. “This grant targets workshops for cooperative directors, officers and managers; farm supply and grain elevator cooperative benchmarking; student internships at a cooperative; and machinery and labor sharing arrangements for fruit and vegetable growers.”

Other grant team members are Darren Jarboe, Center for Crops Utilization Research; Georgeanne Artz, Economics and Kevin Kimle, Agricultural Entrepreneurship Initiative. The Iowa Institute for Cooperatives is a partner on the grant. The funds will be used to support four projects important to rural Iowa.

Cooperative training workshops will continue to be an important part of IACBD’s ongoing tasks. The workshops are designed to educate directors, officers and managers about finance, strategic management and other issues important to cooperatives and mutually owned businesses. The workshops will be held in Iowa and will expand to other Midwestern states.

The Cooperative Benchmarking Program provides cooperatives with benchmark-type reports and charts that allow them to compare their cooperative’s management outcomes with those of their peers. The data from the program will be used to develop materials that will be accessible to all Iowa cooperatives. The program was developed by IACBD, the Iowa Institute for Cooperatives and Coop Metrics, LLC.

IACBD will continue a pilot program that sends an Iowa State student entrepreneurship team to work with an Iowa farm supply and grain elevator cooperative. Student interns are tasked with identifying potential business opportunities for an agricultural cooperative that could lead to a new business or a business expansion. The goal is to provide students access to cooperatives leaders, and participating cooperatives have the opportunity to identify students interested in working for cooperatives after college. So far, six students have participated in the program.

IACBD will begin helping small fruit and vegetable growers who are looking to expand production to meet the growing demand for local and regional foods. These growers lack information regarding how to scale up their operation. IACBD will develop educational materials on machinery and labor sharing arrangements that will give growers information on machinery adoption and reducing costs by sharing labor and machinery.

For more information about IACBD, please visit


About the Iowa Alliance for Cooperative Business Development

The Iowa Alliance for Cooperative Business Development at Iowa State University was initiated through a USDA Rural Cooperative Development grant in 2003. The Alliance combines outreach, teaching and applied research programs to provide rural Iowans with viable alternatives for economic development. The overarching goal of the Alliance is to effectively serve eligible rural areas in the United States and improve the economic conditions of these areas.