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Catalyzing worker co-ops & the solidarity economy

Municipal Policy and Economic Democracy

Lessons and Questions For New York City

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April 18, 2019
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New York, like cities around the country, is grappling with a new era of economic challenges marked by escalating housing costs, persistent inequities of wealth and opportunity, rapid technological change, and the effects of climate change. These challenges are prompting fresh interest in “inclusively owned” institutions that can help democratize wealth and wealth generation, such as housing and consumer cooperatives; worker cooperatives and other means of employee ownership and participation; credit unions; community land trusts, among others. The challenges also are prompting interest in new (or dusted off) ways of conducting economic development, workforce development, public investment, and civic engagement. This panel of NYC staffers, a community leader, and researchers will explore the current and potential policy ecosystem in New York City in these arenas as a means of meeting the challenges of the day and to lay the foundation for equity and prosperity in the future. The panel will include a preliminary report on research being conducted by the New York City Department of Consumer and Worker Protection Office of Financial Empowerment (OFE), which aims to expand asset building opportunities for New Yorkers with low and moderate incomes. OFE has been building case studies and surveying how cities and regions in the United States, Spain, South Korea, and other parts of the world are building policies and programs that work together to create cohesive ecosystems promoting “inclusively owned” institutions and democratic strategies of wealth building.

Senior staff from the office of the Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives will contextualize this report within the Deputy Mayor’s expansive vision for how the City can use its range of tools and influence to democratize flows of wealth throughout the New York City economy.The codirector of the New Economy Project, which has taken the lead in promoting a public bank and community land trusts in the city, will explore the power of those strategies and other public policy to take on economic challenges. Panelists will consider what parts of an inclusive ownership policy ecosystem currently exist in New York City; the role government and government agencies might play in building broader cooperative and “inclusive ownership”; how communities and stakeholders should be engaged in the process of building out these policies; and barriers to these approaches.

Abby Scher - Member - Research | Action Cooperative

Zayne Abdessalam - Director of Policy & Research, Office of Financial Empowerment - NYC Department of Consumer and Worker Protection

Christine Curella - Deputy Director, Business Development & New Economy Initiatives - Office of the Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives

Deyanira Del Rio - Co-Director - New Economy Project

Jessica Gordon-Nembhard - Professor, Community Justice & Social Economic Development in Department of Africana Studies - CUNY John Jay College


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