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Co-op Cincy: Building a Resilient, Worker-Owned Economy in Greater Cincinnati

In the heart of Greater Cincinnati, a movement has been quietly gaining momentum since its inception in 2011. Co-op Cincy, originally called the Cincinnati Union Cooperative Initiative, has been working diligently to nurture a resilient and interconnected network of worker-owned businesses. Their mission is clear: to create an economy that works for all, with a focus on sustainable jobs, inclusivity, and community accountability.

Building an Inclusive, Sustainable and Worker-Owned Future

Since its inception in 2011, Co-op Cincy has been a testament to the power of community-driven initiatives. It is a catalyst, paving the way for an inclusive, worker-owned future where economic stability, opportunity, and accountability are accessible to all. As the movement continues to grow, it offers a compelling vision of an economy that truly works for everyone.

One of Co-op Cincy’s primary objectives is to foster family-sustaining jobs by expanding the worker-owned business model. Worker ownership, also known as employee ownership, offers a unique approach where employees actively participate in the profits, oversight, and often the management of their workplace. This model not only provides job stability but also empowers workers to have a say in the direction and success of their businesses.

Furthermore, Co-op Cincy is committed to providing ownership opportunities to individuals from underserved and historically marginalized groups. By doing so, they aim to address economic disparities and create a more inclusive and equitable local economy.

Drawing Inspiration from Mondragon

Co-op Cincy draws inspiration from Spain’s Mondragon Corporation, the largest industrial association of cooperatives in the world. Established in 1956, Mondragon has transformed a region of Spain with a population size similar to Greater Cincinnati. It achieved this by reducing poverty and economic inequality, demonstrating the potential of the worker-owned business model.

A Wide Range of Services

Co-op Cincy offers various services to support the growth of worker-owned businesses in the Greater Cincinnati area. These services include technical assistance and coaching, co-op culture building, and access to loans through partnerships with organizations like Seed Commons and others. By providing these resources, Co-op Cincy helps businesses transition to the worker-owned model and thrive within it.

The Union Co-op Model

One of the unique aspects of Co-op Cincy’s approach is its embrace of the union co-op model. This hybrid business structure combines elements of a union’s worker solidarity with a cooperative’s democratic operations. Workers in union co-ops are both members of a union and owners of their businesses. They elect a union committee to negotiate collective bargaining agreements on their behalf, fostering solidarity and collective bargaining power.

The concept of unions and cooperatives working together has deep historical roots in the United States. After the Civil War, organizations like the Knights of Labor embraced cooperatives as a strategy to empower workers. In more recent times, unions in the U.S. have looked to Mondragon for inspiration and innovative strategies to empower their members through democratic worker-ownership.

Co-op Cincy’s Impact

Co-op Cincy’s work extends beyond the Cincinnati area. They are part of a growing movement of union co-op development initiatives across the United States. This model is taking root in multiple regions, including Dayton, New York City, Denver, Chicago, Los Angeles, Madison, St. Louis, and the state of Maine. Co-op Cincy’s commitment to the union co-op model has the potential to create a ripple effect, transforming economies and communities across the nation.

Join the Movement

Intrigued by Co-op Cincy’s mission? Consider becoming a part of this transformative journey. Visit their website or reach out to their team to learn more about how you can contribute to building a more inclusive and resilient economy in Greater Cincinnati.