How US cities are beginning to take an active role in promoting worker-ownership.
There are certain places in the world, like the Basque Autonomous Community in Spain for instance, or the Emilia-Romagna region in Italy, where worker-ownership is much more common than usual, and one naturally wonders why this might be? Some of the difference is clearly historical and bottom-up. These regions often have a long socialist or collectivist tradition, and so folk living in these areas are more likely to think of worker-ownership when they start a business. But some of the difference is also top-down. Governments in these regions are often more supportive of worker-ownership in general and put policies in place designed to support local cooperatives.
In contrast, the United States has long been one place in the world where worker-ownership is substantially less common than in other areas, but in the last couple decades, in some cities anyway, this appears to be changing. Stacy Sutton from the University of Illinois in Chicago has just published an interesting article in which she describes and surveys the relatively new phenomenon of ‘cooperative cities’ in the US. These are cities where the local municipal government offers support to cooperatives and, to a greater or lesser extent, tries to grow the cooperative sector in their area.
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