The ERDC was succeeded in 1973 by a pilot organization authorized by the state legislature, the SW/WC Educational Service Area (ESA). The Educational Media Center, begun by the Montevideo School District with a 1965 Title II grant, was donated by that district to the ESA.
The ESA was so successful that in 1976 the legislature expanded the concept to all regions of the state, and renamed the agencies ECSUs (Educational Cooperative Service Units). Governor's Planning Regions 6 & 8 combined to form one administrative entity and the SW/WC ESA became the SW/WC ECSU on July 1, 1976.
Since then, the rest of the state's regions formed their own ECSUs, for a total of nine in Minnesota.
The purpose of the ECSUs is to perform educational planning on a regional basis and to assist in meeting children's specific educational needs that may be better provided for by an ECSU than by the individual districts.
The 1992 State Legislature changed the enabling legislation for ECSUs to provide services to cities, counties, and other governmental units. This legislative change reflects the state's attitude toward government operating in an effective manner.
On July 1, 1995, through legislative action, the Minnesota ECSUs became Service Cooperatives. The Service Cooperatives' Board of Directors officially named Regions 6 and 8 the Southwest/West Central Service Cooperatives on August 23, 1995.