(NEW ORLEANS, La.) — Withlacoochee River Electric Cooperative (WREC), based in Fla., has won the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s (NRECA) first-ever “Cooperative Purpose Award” in recognition of the co-op’s outstanding contributions to improving the quality of life and the purpose of the cooperative in the community.
After a territory swap with a neighboring utility brought long-impoverished communities into the co-op’s service territory, WREC set out to improve the prospects and quality of life for the new co-op members. The co-op held community forums, partnered with local officials on a strategic master plan and engaged with federal officials, including U.S. Senator Bill Nelson to develop solutions.
WREC’s community outreach programs along with the development of two industrial parks, one of which added 1500 jobs, and golf courses have improved living conditions in the poorest areas in the county. WREC’s charitable foundations have supported 560 co-op families.
By living out the cooperative principles – commitment to community and cooperation – the co-op has substantially improved the quality of life for co-op members. Crime has dropped dramatically and, for the first time in years, local residents are coming together. An entire community has been lifted up.
“Each and every day, WREC is living out the cooperative purpose, demonstrating the seventh cooperative principle: commitment to community. What WREC has been able to accomplish, by working hand-in-hand with the membership, is truly phenomenal,” said NRECA Interim CEO Jeffrey Connor.
More than 6,000 representatives from electric co-ops across the nation are attending NRECA’s Annual Meeting, Feb. 14-17. They will set NRECA’s legislative and organizational agenda for 2016. Delegates will also hear from NRECA officials, key public figures and business experts about issues affecting electric cooperatives and their consumer members.
The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association is the national service organization that represents the nation’s more than 900 private, not-for-profit, consumer-owned electric cooperatives, which provide service to 42 million people in 47 states.