ECONOMIC & COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT
Community economic development is driven by a communities social, environmental, and economic priorities. Cooperatives can be a mechanism for economic and community self-determination. When markets do not provide needed goods or services, co-ops can be part of the solution.
Democratic control coupled with shared capital and shared risk may be viewed as cumbersome but can contribute to the survival rate of the enterprise.
Cooperatives demonstrate greater resilience than other business forms.
New business development is viewed as a mechanism for innovation, job creation and economic growth. Starting a new business is challenging and launching a new co-op can be difficult as future member-owners need to create a shared vision and values for the organization. Other characteristics of the co-op business structure including democratic control, shared capital, and shared risk may contribute to a higher survival rate compared to other similar businesses. Research in Canada and the United Kingdom has examined the survival rate of cooperative structured businesses and suggest that when lead successfully, these businesses have a higher survival rate compared to other business structures.
Economic impact is measured by new businesses launched in or attracted to a particular community, businesses retained and expanded, and jobs created and retained.
Measuring economic impact
Development professionals are often tasked with measuring the impact of businesses operating within the communities in which serve.
- The ABC’s of Cooperative Impact
- The Benefits and Impacts of Cooperatives, 2014.
- Co-ops Matter: The ABCs of Co-op Impact Urban Institute, 2018.
- Cooperatives in Rural Community Development: A New Framework for Analysis, 2004.
- Differential Economic Impacts for Cooperative Business Structures: An Application to Farmer-Owned Cooperatives in New York State
Integrating employee ownership into economic & workforce development
- Municipal Playbook for Employee Ownership, 2022
- Working with Small Business Cooperatives: A Guide for Public Sector, Private Sector, and Nonprofit Allies, 2020
- Project Equity City Government Toolkit
- Worker Cooperatives for New York City: A Vision for Addressing Income Equality, 2014
- The Cooperative Growth Ecosystem
Cooperative development centers provide technical assistance to persons interested in launching a cooperative-structured enterprise.
Cooperative development centers provide technical assistance and training. Some organize classes for persons interested in forming a business. Others have trained consultants to meet with cooperative catalysts and leaders. Most have useful “how to” resources to organize and launch the organization.
Cooperative development centers and technical advisors have resources useful to professionals and current and future cooperative leaders. Cooperatives have formed banks as an alternative to commercial lending sources.
Toolkits for cooperative development
Cooperative development centers and consultants have a variety of tools and resources useful to cooperative leaders and economic development professionals.
- The Cooperative Business Model as an Economic Development Tool: Lessons from Nebraska, 2014.
- New Generation Cooperatives and the Future of Agriculture: An Introduction, 2014.
Cooperatives with strong financial performance and sound business plans are eligible to secure funding from commercial lending sources. The cooperative ecosystem has developed banks to support member-owned businesses.