HPC is an associate member of the National Cooperative Grocers Association. As an associate member we are not yet participating in the Co-op Deals or the joint buying program. However, we have already seen many benefits. Our store's name is included on the grocery bags and other promotional materials used by NCGA member co-ops, and we will no longer be missed when media are doing stories about Twin Cities co-ops. NCGA offers a $1500 stipend for our co-op staff to take advantage of NCGA training opportunities; several staff members have already participated in their web-based training. The organization also provides a variety of tools and support for co-op management, which we are using to assist us in our goal of a more efficiently-operating store. Although we are not full members and can't take advantage of the cost savings offered to full members, we have been assured that associate membership is a great first step toward full membership. We will be applying for full membership in the next six months.