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Worker-Owned Co-ops Get $1 Million in NYC Spending

New York City's newly approved budget allocates $1.2 million for developing and supporting worker-owned cooperative businesses.
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New York City’s budget for the 2015 fiscal year includes a new item that supporters of a fairer economy will want to celebrate: $1.2 million set aside for the development of worker-owned cooperative businesses.

"Support shows that they understand cooperatives can be a viable tool for economic development that creates real opportunity."

The spending is a small fraction of the $75 billion budget, which the City Council approved on June 26. But, according to a statement by U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives, it's the largest investment in the sector ever made by a city government in the United States.

Cooperative businesses are both owned and operated by employees. They focus on maximizing value for all their members as well as creating fair and quality jobs.

“This is a great step forward for worker cooperatives,” Melissa Hoover, executive director of the U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives, said in a press release. According to Hoover the co-op funding received widespread support from city council members, which “shows that they understand cooperatives can be a viable tool for economic development that creates real opportunity."

Here’s how the city’s newly adopted budget describes the program:

Funding will support the creation of 234 jobs in worker cooperative businesses by coordinating education and training resources and by providing technical, legal and financial assistance. The initiative will fund a comprehensive citywide effort to reach 920 cooperative entrepreneurs, provide for the start-up of 28 new worker cooperative small businesses and assists another 20 existing cooperatives.

"A healthy local government’s budget is balanced, transparent, responsive, and inclusive," reads the opening statement of the 2015 Budget Summery. A healthy business runs quite the same way, and armed with this funding New York City worker-owned co-ops are set up to prove it.


Liz Pleasant wrote this article for YES! Magazine, a national, nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas with practical actions. Liz is a graduate of the University of Washington's program in Anthropology, and an online editorial intern at YES! Follow her on Twitter @lizpleasant.

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