Cooperatives are vital to Montana’s economy and a unique part of rural communities
(Missoula) – Throughout Montana’s history, cooperatives have played an important role in stimulating economic development and providing access to critical goods and services while remaining committed to local ownership and governance.
Blackfoot Communications recognizes the positive impact of cooperatives throughout October. Blackfoot Communications was founded as a telephone cooperative by a group of ranchers outside of Clinton, MT in 1954. Since 1964, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has proclaimed October as national Co-op Month.
“A cooperative’s priorities include meeting a need in the community and being accountable to your customers,” said Jason Williams, CEO. “We make significant investments back into the communities we serve, from building the infrastructure supporting fiber-based internet, or donating to local nonprofits and civic organizations.”
The Montana Cooperative Development Center defines a cooperative as “an organization that is owned and democratically controlled by the people who use its products, supplies or services.” Types of cooperatives found in Montana include telephone, electric, credit unions, and agriculture.
Founded in 1954, Blackfoot Telephone Cooperative was formed to help improve service and operation of telephone networks in rural Western Montana communities. Today, Blackfoot Telephone Cooperative includes over 15,000 members represented by a democratically elected nine-person board of trustees.
“A lot of Montanans depend on cooperatives every day,” said Tom Eggensperger, chair of the Blackfoot Telephone Cooperative board of trustees. “Cooperatives like Blackfoot are local companies and a meaningful part of Montana’s rural heritage. We are proud to support our co-op communities and provide access to more opportunities through technology.”
In 2017, Blackfoot Communications launched a series of projects upgrading existing networks to fiber-based internet and bringing fiber technology to nearby areas. Building on nearly 70 years of experience constructing and maintaining communications networks, these projects are a significant investment in a long-lasting infrastructure.
To celebrate national Co-op Month, Blackfoot is welcoming customers to visit our headquarters located at 1221 N Russell Street in Missoula for coffee and donuts from 8a-11a, Thursday, October 5.