Download Full Text (2.3 MB)


By Norman Walzer, Northern Illinois University, in collaboration with Jacob Smith, NIU, and David Ivan, Michigan State University. (2019) In 2014, the North Central Regional Council for Regional Development published a report that examined 20 Community Supported Enterprises (CSEs) operating across the U.S., plus listed many others in operation at that time (Walzer and Sandoval, 2014). The CSEs mainly involved grocery-related stores and eating establishments typically in small towns. The enterprises fit the CSE model because they had local investment and were motivated by a social purpose, often to build social capital and improve quality of life. In several instances, these CSEs have closed due mainly to adverse financial conditions but with important lessons learned in the process. Others are profitable and flourishing. Growing interest in a CSE approach among public officials and community leaders generated interest in preparing a guidebook to help other groups chart a course to evaluate, and possibly start, a local CSE. Providing that assistance is the main purpose of this guidebook. It is not a manual providing a set course of action because each situation differs in market conditions, financial interests, and willingness of residents to invest or otherwise participate in financing the project. Nevertheless, common features among successful CSEs are highlighted in this Guidebook. It builds on the previous report by examining additional CSEs that vary in organizational structure, goods or services delivered, or financing approaches. In addition, more attention is paid to who was involved in the organizational effort and how the venture was marketed to potential investors. The intent is to provide sufficient information that readers interested in launching a local effort will gain insights into how to proceed even under different scenarios.

Publication Date





community-supported enterprises, local business, cooperatives, rural communities


In collaboration with Jacob Smith, NIU and David Ivan, Michigan State University


Financial support for this project was provided by the North Central Regional Center for Rural Development through a grant to the NIU Center for Governmental Studies collaborating with the MI State Extension and the UW Extension. The Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs provided financial support for this project.




Center for Governmental Studies


Northern Illinois University Center for Governmental Studies

Guidebook and Resources for Starting Community Supported Enterprises



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.