THE new Scottish Co-operative Development Agency is set to be operational by the end of the year.
After a recent meeting with officials from Scottish Enterprise, Jim Lee, Secretary of Co-operation and Mutuality Scotland – which will be closely involved with the CDA – said he was hopeful the organisation would come together over the next few months.
The organisation, to be a subsidiary of Scottish Enterprise, the economic development agency for Scotland, will initially focus on creating and supporting existing renewable energy co-operatives.
It will also drive the message that worker co-operatives can be formed to save failing companies and secure jobs, said Mr Lee.
Last month, Labour/Co-op MSP Cathy Jamieson announced a £ 3 million funding package over three years for the CDA.
At Congress in Glasgow she reaffirmed the Scottish Executive's commitment to the initiative.
She said: "The Co-operative Development Agency is extremely important to the Scottish Executive, and to all of us who recognise the importance of the co-operative dimension to the history of the labour movement and the cause of social justice.
"Our new CDA will provide a focal point for the future of the Co-operative Movement in Scotland, and will be resourced to do so.
"Using these resources we can all work together to build on the legacy of those who have already put in so much and create vibrant and sustainable co-operative businesses, which we can be proud of."
Mr Lee said it is likely up to 10 members of staff will be employed from September, including a chief executive of the CDA. He commented: "We would rather have less staff than more – 10 seems too many. If as little as possible was spent on staff then there would be more money left for projects.
"As well as creating its own projects, I would like to see partnerships set up with other organisations throughout Scotland that are delivering sustainable co-operative solutions. One good example is Energy4All, which has been helping set-up windfarms in remote areas of Scotland."
The running of the organisation is to be overlooked by an advisory board of around six people with representatives from government, the Co-operative Movement and other sectors. The main offices are likely to be based in Glasgow.
Mr Lee, who is also National Secretary of the Scottish Co-operative Party, paid tribute to Ms Jamieson, Justice Minister, who drove forward the CDA proposals.
He said: "It wasn't in her remit to do all the work she has done, but she helped us move things forward faster. Without people like Cathy, and Clare Brady at CMS, the CDA would not have been a major success.
"The Co-operative Party in Scotland was a major force in the initial stages of getting CDA plans approved. From now on, CMS will take over the role on behalf of the Co-operative Movement to make sure the CDA lives up to co-operative standards."