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Press Release: Mayor Warren Moves Forward in Job Creation Initiative, Releases Democracy Collaborative Report

Centering community and place Fighting for a new systemic vision

NEWS RELEASE: CITY OF ROCHESTERMAYOR LOVELY WARREN, MAYOR

(Wednesday, March 22, 2016) – Mayor Lovely A. Warren announced that the City will move forward with an initiative to bring more jobs to Rochester’s neighborhoods by developing and supporting employee-owned businesses.

“As Rochester experiences its rebirth, it is imperative that there is a place for everyone in the new economy,” Mayor Lovely A. Warren said. “By working with the Democracy Collaborative and other local partners, we can build community wealth by creating jobs in our neighborhoods. In doing so, we’ll also make our streets safer and more vibrant, and provide for better educational opportunities.”

City Council approved legislation Tuesday night to hire the Democracy Collaborative to oversee and coordinate Phase II of the Market Driven Community Cooperatives Initiative.

“Making an enduring commitment and establishing a structure that can sustain a diverse portfolio of employee-owned businesses over time will be critical to this success of this initiative,” said Ted Howard, President and Co-Founder of the Democracy Collaborative. “We believe that if the Rochester community makes such a long-term commitment to the Market Driven Community Cooperatives Corporation, that this city can become a hub of innovative cooperative development that will produce substantial benefits for its residents for many years to come.”

Mayor Warren aims to have the first start-up cooperatives launch early next year.

Phase II of the project will involve the creation of a non-profit holding company that will be responsible for developing a diverse portfolio of worker-owned businesses over time, both by developing new cooperatives and by supporting existing worker cooperatives in Rochester. The holding company would also help other private businesses that wish to transition to an employee-owned structure.

Market-Driven Community Cooperatives are for-profit businesses that are owned by the people who work in them. This non-traditional ownership structure creates unique opportunities for profit-sharing and participation in management, both of which are often unavailable to workers from low-income backgrounds. Because of that, the cooperative model has been used as a wealth building strategy for low and moderate income communities, across the nation. Rochester will seek to place cooperatives in high-poverty areas and develop these businesses in industries that can provide goods and services to the region’s anchor institutions, such as the Rochester Institute of Technology, the University of Rochester and the Rochester Regional Health System.

The Democracy Collaborative will work with the City’s Department of Neighborhood and Business Development to develop the first new cooperatives, create a permanent infrastructure to sustain the initiative, and empower permanent local leadership.

The Democracy Collaborative has completed Phase I of the MDCC project, in which they determined there is strong potential for the model to succeed in Rochester.

The full report can be found at www.cityofrochester.gov/innovation.

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