The Cleveland Foundation has helped launch three new companies in the inner city. All employ between 5 and 50 people…and are employee owned. That’s what we call growing the local economy.
“I promised myself that I would never use empty words about job creation again.” That’s what India Pierce Lee told Marti and me when we interviewed her this week, in preparation for her March 28 webcast appearance. (Sign up here. It’s free.)
What Lee and her colleague Ted Howard have done in Cleveland is simply inspiring:
- They’ve launched three worker cooperatives, employing between 5 and 50 people each: the Evergreen Laundry Coop, the Ohio Solar Coop, and Green City Growers.
- All coops employ people from the inner city.
- Every employee works for six months as a temp. After their probationary period is up, the other employees vote whether to extend coop ownership to the new hire, or not. If the new hire gets the votes to become an owner, they get an immediate pay increase, with a fifty cents an hour held back to cover their $3,000 ownership interest. After three years, they are fully vested as an owner.
- The coops are hyper-local. They start by asking the local business community, “What do you need?” For example, the Laundy Coop was started after learning that 250 million pounds of hospital bed linens are generated each year. Ohio Solar launched when state laws require 60 megawatts of solar power by 2012; as of 2011 there were only two megawatts in service. And the Green City Growers? Well, they know you gotta eat; they will generate 5 million heads of lettuce and 3 million pounds of herbs annually.
Want to learn more? Here’s a great video about the Evergreen Cooperative.
Better yet, talk to the founders of the Evergreen Cooperative at our free webcast on March 28, 2012 webcast. We’ll feature five innovators who are turning heads with the sustainable ideas. Sign up here. Seats are limited.
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