There’s a new movement afoot that intends to help roll out worker-owned cooperative businesses in Buffalo. This city was once home to a lot more cooperative businesses, and hopefully this initiative will see those numbers rebound. Co-op models of business add great economic diversity to cities. Take, for example, The Lexington Co-op, which has not only proven itself with longevity, it has also grown by leaps and bounds with its second location on Hertel.
Worker cooperatives can thrive in a number of cottage industries, from communal living scenarios to neighborhood banking (credit unions). Those are a couple of working examples found in Buffalo. But the co-op model can be applied to scores of different types of businesses. Co-ops put the power of the operation into the people’s hands, giving members the ability to control the future of any given business (one worker, one vote). Unfortunately, somewhere along the line, co-ops dropped by the wayside in Buffalo… but now there is a concerted effort underway to rekindle that flame thanks to a new partnership between Cooperation Buffalo and PUSH Buffalo.
Start a worker cooperative, to build wealth and power for workers and communities typically excluded from the mainstream economy.
“We know that the extractive dig-burn-dump economy leaves the planet sickened and people exploited. We also know that the people closest to problems have the best solutions. Worker-owned cooperatives put workers in control of their workplaces and return our economy to be in harmony with community needs and collective solutions,” explained Andrew Delmonte, Director of Cooperative Development for PUSH Buffalo and Cooperation Buffalo.
Currently, the two organizations are accepting applicants for the Fall 2019 cohort of our Cooperative Academy training program. Here’s the drill:
For 12 Tuesdays from October 1st through December 17th, teams of cooperative entrepreneurs will explore how to build worker-owned cooperative businesses with experts in business development, finance, governance, democratic decision making, and participatory management, and will learn about the rich history and culture of cooperative economics in the US, and in Buffalo, NY.
Cooperative Academy participants will meet member-owners of several Buffalo cooperatives and leave with a plan for starting their own worker cooperative business. Teams of at least 2 people are encouraged to apply, whether at the idea stage, already taking steps to grow a business, or considering a conversion of an existing business to worker-ownership.
The Cooperative Academy is free for participants. Online registration is available at www.cooperationbuffalo.org. Space is limited to 30 registrants and applications are due by September 15th. This course is offered as a package of twelve sessions. Sessions are not available individually. For more information, call (716) 884-0356 ext.241 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.