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Catalyzing worker co-ops & the solidarity economy

Municipal support for worker cooperatives in the United States

This article examines the emergence of cooperative cities, or municipalities creating enabling environments for worker-owned cooperatives since 2009 by adopting legislation and budget initiatives explicitly fitted for these enterprises. Through a textual analysis of municipal documents, media accounts, and professional reports, I develop the cooperative cities typology that covers the spectrum of municipal activities: top-down catalytic initiatives where city leaders are instrumental, grassroots- and advocacy-led bottom-up initiatives validated by the city, and initiatives with complementary elements of both that are designed to strengthen and expand the cooperative ecosystem. Drawing on enabling environment theory, I present embedded case studies of three types of cooperative cities—developer, endorser, and cultivator—contrasting the strategic activities employed by each. I conclude by underscoring the importance of municipal support for worker cooperatives assuming that the grassroots movement does not become dependent on political champions, maintains autonomy, centers member-owners, and upholds cooperative principles.

Read the rest at the Journal of Urban Affairs



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