59th Annual Meeting Focuses on Economic Impact of Montana’s Cooperatives

By Guy Gregory,
MCDC Communications Specialist

MCOC Secretary/Treasurer Dave Kelsey (far left) moderates a panel of co-op industry leaders, including MECA Interim CEO Gary Weins (center) and Montana’s Credit Unions VP of Relationship Management Ranel Smith (right).
Farmers Union Oil Company CEO/General Manager Cory Vorderbruggen
MTA General Manager Geoff Feiss

The second day of the MCOC 59th Annual Meeting began with a panel of co-op industry leaders briefing members about their respective sectors.   Panel Speakers included Montana Electric Cooperatives’ Association Interim CEO Gary Wiens, Montana’s Credit Unions VP of Relationship Management Ranel Smith, Montana Telecommunications Association General Manager Geoff Feiss, and Farmers Union Oil Company CEO/General Manager Cory Vorderbruggen.

MCOC Members attending the 59th Annual Meeting listen intently to speakers.

Following the panel, MCDC Executive Director Janice Brown discussed the most recent Economic Impact Study of Montana’s Cooperatives.  She highlighted the findings from MSU’s analysis of 2017 economic data from the 100 cooperatives that completed the survey… Here is a summary of the results:

Table 1.  Montana Revenue, Jobs, and Wages Created and Membership in Cooperatives

Montana Department of Commerce Acting Director Marty Tuttle
Montana Department of Agriculture Deputy Director Kim Mangold
Governor Steve Bullock’s Budget Director Tom Livers

After Brown’s presentation, Marty Tuttle, Acting Director of the Montana Department of Commerce, and Kim Mangold, Deputy Director of the Montana Department of Agriculture, explained the proposed legislative re-authorization of Montana’s 2019 Economic Development Programs.  An additional perspective on the proposed 2019 state budget was then shared by Governor Steve Bullock’s Budget Director Tom Livers.

Following lunch, Janice Brown briefed the audience about the ongoing Montana Cooperative Impact Project, an educational program for the next generation funded by the CHS Foundation.  She presented an illustrated slide show of the five Cooperative Impact Weeks that were held across Montana during 2018. 

MCOC members then convened their Annual Business Meeting to conduct elections and hear management updates for the year. Re-elected to the board of directors were: 

District 1: Tom Dedman, Southeast Montana Federal Credit Union

District 3: Dave Kelsey, Yellowstone Valley Electric Cooperative

District 5: Ben Boreson, Nemont

District 7: Remains vacant due to no nominees

The members were briefed on a proposal to more closely integrate the educational work of the Council with that of the Montana Cooperative Development Center, and to develop one marketing brand called the “Montana Cooperative Alliance”.  The members voted to table proposed changes to the bylaws that would have removed specified dues amounts and reduced the number of directors on the board. The majority of those voting wished to have more time to study the proposed changes.

2019 MCOC Secretary/Treasurer Dave Kelsey
2019 MCOC Vice President Clarence “Fritz” Keller
2019 MCOC President Ben Boreson

Once the Annual Business Meeting concluded, the MCOC Board of Directors convened their reorganization meeting to elect officers for 2019.  Ben Boreson was elected President, Clarence “Fritz” Keller was elected Vice President, and Dave Kelsey was reelected as Secretary/Treasurer.  The board agreed to move ahead with integrating MCOC and MCDC outreach and educational efforts under the “Montana Cooperative Alliance” brand, which will include greater coordination between websites and social media development.

Invited State Legislators and their guests enjoy the Council’s traditional Legislative Dinner.

The MCOC Board adjourned before the Council’s Legislative Dinner, held that evening in the Delta Hotels Helena Colonial Ballroom. The popular reception and dinner, held each Legislative session, set a record in attendance.  More than 100 people gathered for cocktails and a free plated buffet dinner to network with MCOC members and learn about the latest Economic Impact Report on Montana’s Cooperatives.

Council members visit with State Legislators and their guests during a pre-dinner reception.
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