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The Cooperative Growth Ecosystem

Melissa Hoover and Hilary Abell

This second paper in Citi Community Development’s Building the Inclusive Economy series focuses on scaling worker cooperatives as a means to create quality jobs and wealth-building opportunities for low-income workers. Authored by Hillary Abell, Co-founder of Project Equity, and Melissa Hoover, Executive Director of the Democracy at Work Institute, the report draws from the experiences of Cincinnati, Ohio, Madison, Wisconsin, New York City, the San Francisco Bay area, and western North Carolina to develop a framework for understanding the successful components of a “cooperative growth ecosystem.” These include collaboration across sectors, diverse funding streams, and a “guiding coalition” to create a strategic vision:

A new approach to local economic development has never been more urgent, as poverty concentrates and inequality rises in cities across the United States.1 A new approach has also never been more possible. Faced with a widening racial wealth gap, unprecedented displacement of people of color from urban cores, and deadlocked federal and state governments, cities across the country are flexing their local muscle to solve big problems. They are innovating. They are prioritizing strong local economies. Various public and private sector actors are working together to maximize broad-based community benefit in real and sustainable ways...