A unique group of bicyclists visited CUNA and CUNA Mutual Group in Madison, Wis., Monday afternoon as part of its effort to raise awareness of cooperatives and the benefits co-ops offer society.
Members of Co-Cycle, a youth-led, cross-country bicycle tour, met with local dignitaries and cooperative leaders—and read a proclamation from the U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives pledging the organization’s official support for the Credit Union Small Business Lending Enhancement Act.
“We endorse removing a cap that constrains our ability to grow,” according to the proclamation, read by Co-Cycle member Charlotte Cadieux of Toronto. “It’s a shame that the member business lending cap limits our ability to work with credit unions.”
Jill Tomalin, CUNA’s senior vice president of association services, thanked the Federation and Co-Cycle for their support. She noted that raising the credit union member business loan cap would result in the creation of 140,000 new jobs in the U.S., and 4,400 in Wisconsin.
Cadieux says the journey—which started in San Francisco and ends in Amherst, Mass., on Labor Day weekend—has taught her much about cooperatives. “We’ve learned that the cooperative business model is really powerful, especially in times of financial crisis. It’s resilient because it’s based on principle and not on profit.”
The group has toured five credit unions thus far. “What I have found inspiring about credit unions is that [they allow] communities and individuals to have a stake in what happens to their money and how that money is invested,” Cadieux says.
She believes this practice and other credit union principles will resonate with youth. “This is a model that is oriented toward youth. Unlike banks, credit unions aren’t out to keep us in debt for the rest of our lives. Credit unions are here to help us flourish.”
Dane County Executive Joe Parisi lauded CUNA Mutual Group and CUNA for their strong support of local nonprofit organizations and highlighted the strength of the cooperative business model. “We’re here to celebrate co-ops from finance to food.”
Madison Mayor Paul Soglin explained how a recent conference on cooperatives’ role in the economy drew significant interest among city residents and others. “We celebrate the year of cooperatives. It’s very important what you’re doing.”
In June, Soglin passed a resolution through the U.S. Conference of Mayors urging support for the Credit Union Small Business Jobs Bill.
The 20 members of Co-Cycle will spend several days in Madison before riding on. A film crew from New York University is accompanying the group to create a documentary.
Check out scenes from Monday's event:
|CUNA's Jill Tomalin (left) listens as Co-Cycle's Charlotte Cadieux pledges support for CU MBL legislation.|
|"We celebrate the year of cooperatives," says Madison Mayor Paul Soglin.|
|From left: Leah Grossman, Luke Gay, and Audrey Frischman have visited five CUs so far during their long journey.|
|“We’re here to celebrate co-ops from finance to food,' says Dane County Executive Joe Parisi.|