June 2, 2021


SASKATOON – Every small town has something going for it — something uniquely its own. Co-operatives First, a non-profit organization in western Canada, wants to inspire rural people to discover, celebrate, and harness their “hometown advantage” to grow their local economies.

The Hometown Advantage campaign emphasizes the importance of people in small communities using their ingenuity to create and attract the services and infrastructure they need — and, of course, point out that co-operatives are a great way to do it.

The campaign includes:

  • A 7- part video series at about how small towns can capitalize on their unique attributes and opportunities
  • An e-book guide for Economic Developers and community leaders on how co-operatives fit into business retention and investment attraction strategies
  • A social media contest, with prizes of $500 Co-op gift cards, where participants post great things about their communities using #hometownadvantage
  • A webinar series, featuring timely conversations with economic development professionals about how to leverage local assets, grow the local economy and create community-building incentives.


“Rural people know the challenges that face their communities — they are also not afraid to roll up their sleeves and do the work of solving their own problems. With the Hometown Advantage campaign, we want to help people identify how to use the advantages and resources they already have to come up with local solutions.” – Heather Hallgrimson, Co-operatives First Business Development Lead

“For many years, people have built co-operatives to provide goods and services they need when no one else is doing it for them. Some people think the co-op model is a thing of the past — but co-ops can be a great way to help grow modern economies. The first steps are identifying an opportunity and finding a group of local people who want to work together to make things happen.” – Audra Krueger, Co-operatives First Executive Director

Media contact

Dan Matthews
Manager, strategy and communications
Co-operatives First
(306) 380-9239


Co-operatives First is a non-profit organization funded by Federated Co-operatives Limited and the Co-operative Retailing System. Founded in 2015, the organization provides co-op start-up resources, such as feasibility studies, business plans, and incorporation support to rural and Indigenous co-op entrepreneurs across western Canada. Our goal is to help leaders in these communities build new businesses, grow local economies, and support community development.


Video clips

“Heather and the team at Co-operatives First are top-notch. Not only their knowledge but their understanding of the project. They have truly helped us along every step of the way. Their timely response and knowledge of the steps are extraordinary. They are forthcoming with information. This is one of the most knowledgeable and friendliest teams I have ever had the pleasure of working with.”

Weyburn Theatre

“Co-operatives First made the process of establishing our Artisan Co-operative a very clear and easy process. The expanse of available tools and resources provided by Co-operatives First answers many questions and lightens the workload. Greatly appreciate having the connections made with Trista and Kyle, they keep the co-operative moving forward.”

Nehiyawaskiy Indigenous Peoples Art Co-op

“Our experience working with the Co-operatives First team was absolutely fabulous. The staff was accommodating, knowledgeable and patient. It was truly a breath of fresh air to have such a wealth of skill and resources available to a non-profit. They were invaluable to our successful launch!”

Heart Linked Community Services Cooperative

“Working with Co-operatives First was fantastic! We are still new to the cooperative world, and we relied heavily on their advice and expertise when drafting our rules/bylaws, and our memorandum of association. The team has experience with many different cooperative models, so they provided advice on what has and hasn’t worked for other cooperatives. We wouldn’t have been able to incorporate without their help!”

Ananda Cooperative

“We have had a very positive experience with everyone at Co-operatives First. They have helped us in multiple ways. Right from the first step in knowing how to incorporate, how to set our business and offering ideas for us to help steer us in the right direction plus allowing us to really make our own decisions. If our decisions go off track, they have gently guided us back to where we needed to be. The Co-operatives first guys are always eager to answer questions, and give ideas to us that got us off the ground.”

South East Butcher Block