Saturday, June 12, 2010

Cleveland grassroots cooperatives

Evergreen is looking to expand this year with three new businesses: Green City Growers Cooperative, which will grow leafy greens and herbs to sell to local institutions and food providers; Evergreen Business Services, a B2B co-op that will provide back office services to the Evergreen network of businesses; and Neighborhood Voice, a student co-op that will employ local high school and college students to create media that will link and provide publicity for the seven Cleveland neighborhoods involved in the initiative.

While the model is not entirely unique (the federation of worker co-ops on which it is based has been operating in Spain since 1956), it is certainly innovative in the way that it is scaling a grassroots solution to the current unemployment crisis in the United States. Getting off the ground has not been easy, as India Pierce Lee, Program Director for Neighborhoods, Housing, and Community Development at the Cleveland Foundation, explained during a plenary session at the 2010 Annual BALLE Business Conference. The co-ops were initially turned away when they applied for loans from banks who were hesitant to funds risky start-ups (the operation is currently funded by a combination of new markets tax credits, bank debt, and a grant from the Cleveland Founation). However, the Foundation found a wide based of support for the co-op model including that of Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson and local anchor institutions who understood the value of creating not just jobs but wealth through ownership in local, distressed communities. Following with this year’s theme for the BALLE conference, Evergreen is a clear example of how communities are bailing themselves out of the current economic crisis through community-based, locally-owned strategies.
- Vale Jokistch

Job and Wealth Creation at the Grassroots Level – A Working Model In Cleveland (Triple Pundit) 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.