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Lakes Country Service Co-op featured in National Journal

The July issue of the Cooperative Business Journal featured Lakes Country Service Cooperative (LCSC), headquartered in Fergus Falls, as an example of the power of cooperatives to save costs for local schools, governments and non-profits. LCSC serves members in a nine county region, including Clay, Becker, Wilkin, Otter Tail, Traverse, Stevens, Grant, Douglas and Pope Counties.

What makes LCSC different from most purchasing cooperatives is that it was created by the Minnesota legislature specifically to provide cooperative services to local schools, governments, and non-profits. LCSC is one of nine such cooperatives in the state.

Since 1976, LCSC has pooled the purchasing power of its members to attract lower pricing from vendors. Statewide, the service cooperatives saved their members over $3.5 million dollars on sales of over $25 million in a variety of goods, from paper to software to vehicles.

The cooperative has been on the forefront of providing savings on health insurance for years. Today, the LCSC health insurance employee pools cover 10,000 current and retired employees with annual premiums of $44 million.

"We have documented savings of four percent on premiums and some of the lowest administrative rates in the country at under five percent," says Jeremy Kovash, executive director for LCSC.

Mark Sievert, Fergus Falls City Administrator, is quoted in the article as an LCSC member that can attest to the benefits of membership. According to Sievert, belonging to Lakes Country Service Cooperative has saved Fergus Falls hundreds of thousands of dollars over the past five years from health insurance pools and purchases through the cooperative purchasing program.

LCSC's 100 employees provide shared services in the areas of technology, curriculum, early childhood education, finance and safety consulting. LCSC is governed by a Board of Directors elected from member school boards, and city and county governments.