To Combat Widespread Job Loss, Stay Local and Look to Import Replacement
At a time when businesses pivot from making booze to hand sanitizer, and from sewing t-shirts to facemasks, we look at the cities that have already successfully re-localized industry.
Amid the grim reality of COVID-19, one of the rare feel-good storylines has been a local business that changes its manufacturing setup in an immediate response to the pandemic.
“The example we reference regularly is of the Evergreen Cooperatives in Cleveland. A project of the Democracy Collaborative, the Evergreen coops feature a solar panel factory, greenhouse, and a laundry that services local healthcare institutions,” says Moriarty. Evergreen’s Fund for Employee Ownership also helps convert small businesses into worker-owned cooperatives, a growing trend in the “silver tsunami” movement of retiring baby boomers whose children do not want to take over the family small business.
Founded 20 years ago, Democracy Collaborative has been thinking about how to build a national, truly democratic economy where ownership is broadly held, says Ted Howard, its co-founder and director. The current economy common in the United States is extractive, he says: “highly productive, it keeps producing but not creating substantial wealth. It’s extracting and concentrating in fewer and fewer hands.”