Rochester’s Cooperative Wealth-Building Nonprofit Poised for Action

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November 3, 2016; Democrat & Chronicle (Rochester, NY)

As NPQ reported earlier this year in its nonprofit newswire, the city of Rochester, New York, has launched an effort to support the development of worker co-ops as a substantive approach to shared wealth-building. A large part of the activity is to be organized through a nonprofit holding company, the Rochester Market Driven Community Cooperatives Corporation, which will help in training, raise seed money, and otherwise support development. Rochester’s mayor, Lovely Warren, reported this past week that the organization, which is waiting for notice about whether it will receive a state grant of more than $5 million, is also waiting for its nonprofit status.

The plan is to fund the comprehensive wealth-building effort through a combination of public and private philanthropic dollars. According to the report that informs the initiative, which the Democracy Collaborative produced, the intention is to create for-profit, majority-employee-owned businesses. The report itself, which includes a feasibility study, a discussion of structural and governance questions, an implementation plan and much more, is worth looking at by anyone considering similar efforts in other localities.—Ruth McCambridge