What is a Coop?

The beginnings of the modern cooperative movement can be traced back to the town of Rochdale, England. A band of 28 working people formed the Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers. Desperate over low pay and high living cost, the 28 local workers invested their money, time, and energy and opened the first consumer based cooperative.

Their goal was to provide themselves with the basic human needs: food, shelter, goods, and services. The fame for the Rochdale Pioneers came not from what they did, but from how they did it. Working together, not one, but all workers benefited. From that small group emerged what has become known as the “Rochdale Principle,” a set of practices and proceures that have served as a guidepost for cooperatives around the world.

Cooperatives have come a long way since Rochdale. There are 47,000 cooperative in operation today that provide credit and financial services, telephone and electric service, insurance, housing, child care, health care, food, farming, marketing and supply, and news distribution services. Familiar cooperative enterprises include: Associated Press, Ocean Spray, Nationwide Insurance, Land O’ Lakes, Ace Hardware, and Sunkist. Seven hundred twenty million people belong to coops all across the world. Each year America’s cooperatives generate more than $100 billion in economic activity. Cooperatives serve more than 120 million people in cities, towns, and suburbs throughout rural America. Cooperatives embody the best tracitions of American self-reliance and independence. Coops are successful because they provide nonprofit services to their communities that may not be readily available otherwise.

Halstad Telephone Company is Incorporated as a Cooperative.

On November 21, 1903, a small group of Halstad farmers and businessmen met in the local lumberyard to discuss the possibility of constructing a telephone system in and around Halstad, Minnesota. The committee members met throughout the remaining days of the year and on January 11, of 1904, they agreed to set up a mutual telephone company – a cooperative owned by its subscribers. The challenge was on. A rural telephone system was completely new to this area, and very few members of the community had even seen a telephone.

Over the years, Halstad Telephone Company has grown to include Halstad, Shelly, Nielsville, Climax, Fisher, and Bygland, MN and provides serive to Hillsboro and Caledonia, ND. It also provides Internet and TV services to these members and has expanded its Internet coverage to the neighboring areas of East Grand Forks and Crookston, MN and Grand Forks, ND.

Today Halstad Telephone Company provides a wide variety of services through the most modern switching and transmission equipment available, including digital switching and fiber optic networks.