Our Cooperative Business

The last quarter of every year at CGFC is spent planning. We revisit our current business plan, brainstorm with staff, identify future challenges, study competition trends and use all that information to formalize a business plan for the next three years at Common Ground. From that plan, we structure a budget to meet the needs of the store, each department and our Ends (goals) to serve the community.

For a business this is an important and necessary annual process, but it just sounds like a business process. What is cooperative about it? The cooperation is in how we bring the seven cooperative principles and CGFC's Ends into every part of the planning process. The seven cooperative principles are the bedrock of any cooperative business; so important we put them above the CGFC registers. Our Ends are the goals of the business set by the owners of CGFC through their democratically elected Board of Directors.

  • We bring more voices to the table. Unlike most businesses, every staff member of every department is invited to the table to give input on their department's future goals. We review these goals with a mind toward bringing cooperation into the workplace and strengthening channels for staff input, with development as a key goal.

  • We listen to our owners. We, your GM and staff, have been charged to run a successful grocery store in a cooperative way that meets the Ends you, the owners of CGFC, have set. We review the entire past year's comment cards and our bi-annual owner survey to make sure what the owners want as a whole from their grocery store is front and center in our planning.

  • We plan for Ends impact and fiscal success.  Our Ends are not something that just happens when we have time after running the grocery business, the Ends set by CGFC's owners are woven into every decision. How will we get more and better support to local farms? How will we help the cooperative business model that empowers communities grow in East-Central Illinois and beyond? How will we strengthen our community? Questions like these are woven all the way through our planning process.

In addition, I, as the General Manager, set an additional Ends-based area of study for CGFC each year with the Board's approval. For 2014, we studied our Food for All (FFA) economic access program and are now building concrete steps, based on your input, on how we will strengthen, and grow this program. While we do the work of putting new directions in place for FFA this year, we'll begin our 2015 study - democracy. What does it mean to be a democratically owned business? What does it mean to the owners of CGFC and how would they like to see the idea of democracy at CGFC grow? More on the process soon, and I am looking forward to 2015 being the year of conversation with you about how we can take democracy to a new level at CGFC!

In Cooperation,