Extension, Enterprise, and Education: The Legacy of Co-operatives and Cooperation in Utah: Utah Self-Help Co-operative Board
Utah Self-Help Co-operative Board
In response to the deepening 1930s economic depression, the State Legislature created the Self-help Co-operative Board in March 1935. The state Self-help Co-operative Board consisted of one member named by the State Engineer, one by the chairman of the Public Utilities Commission, three members named by the Self-Help Co-operatives, and two named by the Presidents of the University of Utah and Utah State Agricultural College (i.e. USU). Joseph Geddes served as the USU appointee.
The Self-Help Board's goal was to fight unemployment through Self-Help Co-operatives, but it found that the economic problems could not be solved just by putting people to work. In fact, Geddes reflected in later years that "During the first year, the Board's efforts increased imbalance rather than curing it." "Economic health," he said, "could come only as consumer power was increased to absorb the additional productive power we were adding."* In other words, it was necessary also to boost the demand side of the supply and demand equation. Strategies to boost demand included creating a wholesale co-operative and purchasing a gasoline co-operative which could sell products from some of the other Utah Self-Help Co-operatives (for example, coal from the Coalville producers' Self Help). -- *"I Remember the Utah Self-Help Co-operative Board," by Joseph A. Geddes.