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Username: NCGA
Date/Time: Fri, November 3, 2000 at 12:45 AM GMT
Browser: Microsoft Internet Explorer V5.5 using Windows 98
Score: 5
Subject: NCGA wants .co-op!


  I am writing on behalf of the 56 retail businesses that are members of the National Cooperative Grocers Association.  We urge the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to approve the proposal for a  .co-op top-level domain (TLD).  The National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA) and Poptel are proposing  .co-op with the full endorsement of the International Cooperative Alliance.

The National Cooperative Grocers Association is a member-owned cooperative, comprised of regional groups of cooperative grocers coordinating activities for their mutual benefit.  Membership in NCGA includes sharing and comparison of financial information, aggregated purchasing of various business services, participation in the development of a national controlled label of Co-op grocery products program for retailers, and sharing of best practices and programs that improve retailer competitiveness. 

Members of NCGA operate more than 60 storefronts in 20 states with combined annual sales over $300 million.  The average co-op sells over $6 million of goods per year, out of one store with 10,700 total square feet and nearly 7,750 retail square feet.  The median cooperative was founded in 1975 and will turn 25 years old during 2000.  Nearly 200,000 consumers, with a median investment requirement of $80, own NCGA member co-ops.  Over 3,500 people are employed in NCGA member stores.

As a cooperative, NCGA works hard to provide value to our members, following the International Cooperative Alliance principles.  We have recently launched an e-business web site to provide better access to products and services for our retail members, and have plans to build upon this strategy to ultimately engage in internet commerce for our retail consumer owners.

Consumer mistrust of e-business is growing; while consumer trust and expectations of retail co-ops is as strong as ever, evidenced by our continually growing memberships at each store level.  It is critical that we have an ability to identify ourselves to consumers and others who prefer to do business with us.  While we are using .com for our current web site, we need a way to differentiate ourselves to consumers who trust us.  The .co-op TLD will help us do that.

Co-ops operate in virtually all industries, in 100 countries, and in both rural and urban areas.  There are 750,000 cooperatives worldwide with 725 million members.  As a result, the .co-op TLD will apply to a broad range of businesses across the globe.

I urge ICANN to move quickly to approve .co-op.

Robynn Shrader
Executive Director
National Cooperative Grocers Association
1104 Weeber Circle
Iowa City, IA  52246


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