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Webinar: Converting Businesses to Worker Cooperatives

Overview

Recorded April, 2015

Hosted by The Democracy Collaborative

The Democracy Collaborative and Project Equity organized this webinar to present the findings of our Case Studies: Business Conversions to Worker Cooperatives. We cover the motivations behind converting, readiness factors, steps to transition to a worker owned cooperative, and we hear from three businesses that have converted.

Panelists:

Rob Brown, Cooperative Development Institute  Rob Brown is the Director of CDI’s Business Ownership Solutions (BOS) program. BOS promotes worker ownership in Maine and works with retiring business owners and their employees to facilitate conversion to worker-owned cooperatives. He has also organized mobile home park residents to convert investor-owned parks into resident-owned cooperatives and is currently a DAWI fellow.

Blake Jones, Co-Founder, President and CEO, Worker-Owner, Namaste Solar  Blake Jones is the President of Namaste Solar, an employee-owned cooperative and solar electric company based in Colorado. Namaste Solar is democratically managed, is a certified B Corporation, has a 6:1 total pay cap, donates 10% of after-tax profits to the community, and is 100% transparent with all company information – including salaries. Blake is an Ernst & Young “Entrepreneur of the Year” award recipient (2010) and has a BE in Civil Engineering from Vanderbilt University.

Andrea Hurd, Founder and Owner, Mariposa Gardening & Design  Mariposa Gardening & Design is a privately-owned a San Francisco Bay Area landscape design company that is in the process of converting to a worker-owned cooperative. Andrea Hurd, Mariposa’s founder and owner initiated this conversion, currently in process. Mariposa is a group of skilled craftspeople who bring a variety of experience to the work including dry stack stone walls, leaning flagstone walls, drought tolerant and permaculture gardens, native plants, butterfly gardens and songbird habitats. They create beautiful, ecologically conscious living spaces for people to relax, entertain and come together in a thriving native habitat.

Alison Lingane, Co-Founder, Project Equity Alison Lingane is Co-founder of Project Equity, an Oakland-based nonprofit. Project Equity was founded on the belief that worker owned and controlled businesses are a key component of the New Economy, and critical for building economic resiliency within our communities. Alison focused her early career on micro-enterprise development with urban youth, and in the past 15 years, has held leadership roles in education-based social ventures designed to have human impact at scale, including Benetech, GreatSchools and InsideTrack. Alison is currently an Echoing Green Fellow with her co-founder Hilary Abell. Project Equity recently released the white paper CASE STUDIES: Business Conversions to Worker Cooperatives, Insights and Readiness Factors for owners and employees.

Moderated by Marjorie Kelly, Senior Fellow and Director of Special Projects at The Democracy Collaborative

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