Bay Area Blueprint:

Worker Cooperatives as a Community Economic Development Strategy

Abstract:

The growing low-wage service sector in our economy, combined with overall wage and wealth gaps that are especially concentrated in communities of color, means many working adults don’t make enough money to cover basic needs. Businesses that are owned and run by their workers offer a different way of doing business that benefits workers, businesses, and society. Worker coops are a key component of a “new economy,” and as such, Community Economic Development efforts should incorporate worker cooperative development into their strategies. This paper describes a project in the Bay Area of California to create a local action plan for moving towards scale and impact of worker cooperative development by engaging multi-sectoral actors. It includes a framework for assessing the opportunities in a local region to increase worker coops to benefit low wage workers, and takeaways for other regions that want to apply a similar approach.

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New studies in regions across the U.S., including Washington StateBerkeley and Long Beach, CA show millions of businesses at risk and point to employee ownership as a solution.

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