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State & Local Investments

Our Common Wealth: The return of public ownership in the United States

Thomas Hanna

Public ownership is more widespread and popular in the United States than is commonly understood. This book is the most comprehensive and up-to-date analysis of the scope and scale of U.S. public ownership, debunking frequent misconceptions about the alleged inefficiency and underperformance of public ownership and arguing that it offers powerful, flexible solutions to current problems of inequality, instability, and unsustainability- explaining why after decades of privatization it is making a comeback, including in the agenda of Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party in Britain. Hanna offers a vision of deploying new forms of democratized public ownership broadly, across multiple sectors, as a key ingredient of any next system beyond corporate capitalism. This book is a valuable, extensively researched resource that sets out the past record and future possibilities of public ownership at a time when ever more people are searching for answers.

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Leveling the Playing Field in City Contracting

Oscar Perry
Next City

Oscar Perry, writing for Next City, highlights the work of the Democracy Collaborative in "Leveling the Playing Field in City Contracting." In this long form piece, Perry writes about why New York City has doubled their contracts with women-and-minority-owned firm. As well as, the work of Democracy Collaborative's thought leadership, direction, and work with anchor instutitons through the Healthcare Anchor Network: 

Corporations and anchor institutions like hospitals and universities are stepping up MWBE contracting commitments and programs, too. The Democracy Collaborative, a nonprofit that does research and builds leadership around equitable, inclusive and sustainable development, has been working with anchor institutions to support more diverse contracting through the lens of building stronger local economies. In January 2017, it formed the Healthcare Anchor Network, consisting of 30 healthcare systems nationwide.

“Healthcare systems are recognizing the need for intentionality to overcome the history of discrimination,” says David Zuckerman, who manages the network. Yet such programs remain in danger of going away when there’s a leadership change, he notes.

“If you can institutionalize it, and build it into your strategic plan, that’s what’s powerful,” he says. “We’re not there yet, but I think in the next year we’re going to see more health systems build this local impact work into their strategic plans.”

One way to institutionalize it: Make it someone’s job.

“There might be an official statement that ‘we’re going to prioritize the effort to increase our spend to MWBEs,’ but it’s not any one person’s job, it’s something extra,” Zuckerman says.

Read more in Next City

"Building Community Wealth" Forum featuring Sarah McKinley

In partnership with Northland College's Center for Rural Communities and WITC, a League Forum features Sarah McKinley, Manager of Community Development Programs at the Democracy Collaborative. She presents on her research and travels around the US visiting cities who noted for their innovative strategies resulting in growing more prosperous local communities.
Read more about "Building Community Wealth" Forum featuring Sarah McKinley...

Rochester Mayor: Investing in Co-ops Builds “Stairway Out of Poverty”

Oscar Perry Abello
Next City

Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren announces an amazing city initiative to build community wealth. We've been working with the Rochester municipal government to develop a plan to uplift communities by investing in worker-owned businesses, inspired in part by the Evergreen Cooperatives in Cleveland. As this article from Next City describes, the plan involves the creation of a community-owned and -operated "Market Driven Community Cooperatives Corporation" to oversee the effort.

Symposium: Creating Opportunity through Collaboration

February 24th, 2016
Atlanta, Georgia

This coming February, our friends at NeighborWorks will host a convention of local and national experts, thought leaders and innovators for a stimulating day of presentations, interactive sessions, networking and up-close learning that will help you understand and capitalize on the vital connection between community development, education, health and employment. Read more about Symposium: Creating Opportunity through Collaboration...

Panel: Can Inclusive Economic Development Build Better Jobs and a Stronger Regional Economy?

January 27th, 2016
The Aspen Institute, One Dupont Circle NW, Suite 700, Washington, DC 20036

On Wednesday, January 27, 2016, Washington, D.C. from 12:00-1:30pm, our Executive Vice President and a Senior Fellow, Marjorie Kelly, will speak on a panel alongside Richmond, Virginia Mayor Dwight C. Jones, and Sociologist and Fellow at The Worker Institute at Cornell, Sanjay Pinto. The discussion, part of The Aspen Institute's Working in America series, will be moderated by MSNBC's Dorian T. Warren, a Roosevelt Institute Fellow. Read more about Panel: Can Inclusive Economic Development Build Better Jobs and a Stronger Regional Economy?...

Oberlin College Adopts Impact Investing Platform

Likely largest higher education commitment to social investing in nation to date
A few weeks ago, Oberlin College, with an endowment of nearly $700 million, adopted what is likely the largest impact-investing platform to date by a college or university in the United States. Although Oberlin is just one institution, the decision provides a hopeful sign of an accelerating institutional shift toward greater socially responsible investment practices. A tremendous opportunity exists. Higher education as a sector controls more than $400 billion in endowment assets.

The Rise of Community Wealth Building Institutions

More people are turning to economic alternatives in which new wealth is built collectively and from the bottom up

Crossposted from Policy Network, and later published on the London School of Economics website, this blog is part of a debate event hosted by Policy Network in London, UK, that was reviewed in OurKingdom by grassroots activist James Doran:    

Five years after the financial crisis economic inequality in the United States is spiraling to levels not seen since the Gilded Age. While most Americans are experiencing a recovery-less recovery, the top one per cent of earners last year claimed 19.3 per cent of household income, their largest share since 1928. Moreover, income distribution looks positively egalitarian when compared to wealth ownership.

Public Money for the Public Good

How public finances can be unlocked for local economic development
Public banks and credit unions weathered the last crisis much better than private banks, benefiting the communities they served as well. And many experts believe that it’s only a matter of time before the next financial crisis hits. To weather the next one well, we need to ensure that our individual and collective resources strengthen the types of financial institutions that are democratically accountable, economically stable, mission oriented, and that are actively helping build and keep wealth locally in our communities.

Boulder Gains Momentum in Fight for Green Public Utility

Local campaign seeks to hold back corporate efforts to undo election results

Green. Local. Not-for-profit. That’s the goal in Boulder, Colorado where grassroots activists and the local nonprofit New Era Colorado Foundation have been campaigning to turn the city’s private power source into a public utility in order to more aggressively pursue renewable energy options and reduce carbon emissions. Read more about Boulder Gains Momentum in Fight for Green Public Utility...

Done Right, Eliminating Food Deserts Result in Community Oases

Building community wealth every step of the way
Pogue’s Run Grocer Mural, an initiative of the Indy Food Co-op. © Indy Food Co-op
Building healthy, vibrant and sustainable communities requires more than “bottom up” solutions. The importance of community ownership to ensure that projects that start at the bottom result in lasting community wealth for the people involved is often missing from the discussion. The local foods movement provides examples that illustrate the importance of this ownership principle in practice.

Bernanke Praises Jane Jacobs and Bottom-Up Solutions

Fed Chairman calls for community engagement, collaboration and place-based investment

Last week, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke addressed the Fed’s Community Affairs Research Conference in Washington, DC, opening his speech by acknowledging that successful strategies to rebuild communities require “multipronged approaches that address housing, education, jobs and quality-of-life issues in a coherent, mutually consistent way.”

Read more about Bernanke Praises Jane Jacobs and Bottom-Up Solutions...

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