Family farming isn’t just difficult. It’s so brittle that it only makes a viable livelihood for farmers when land is nearly valueless for sheer lack of people.

When Rendell “Ren” Boguiren got a job in college at a South Bay pizzeria, he wasn’t expecting it would become a career. Now, as a part-owner in the business, he can’t imagine leaving.

It was a transition made possible because co-founders Kirk Vartan and his wife, Marguerite Lee, made a decision in 2015 to sell the business they started, A Slice of New York, to their employees. Both continue to retain part ownership, along with 14 other worker-owners.

“I take a lot of pride in being an owner,” Borguiren said. “It’s something I never would have expected.”

The Northwest Cooperative Development Center in partnership with Jasonwienerplc presented a workshop on converting business to employee ownership in 11 Pacific Northwest Communities between April 29th and June 26th. During that time with engaged with several Small Business Development Centers in Idaho Falls, Twin Falls (Idaho), Ontario and La Grande (Oregon) and the Washington SBDC.

While the overall challenging market landscape we described last year remains, we are pleased to report a return to revenue growth along with continued profitability. Revenues grew by 5.3% to $74.7 million. Growth came primarily in tea, cocoa (helped by a new flavor initiated by our sister co-op in Canada, La Siembra), avocados, and packaged and private label coffee. Most other products saw slight declines...

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Co-operative development in the USA has a unique set a challenges, largely underpinned by the sheer scale of geographies, politics and histories. On the east coast, the Keystone Development Center (KDC) has been taking on these challenges for 20 years, working across Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey and Delaware to sustain communities, economies, and resources through cooperatively-owned businesses.


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