Community Wealth Blog

Just released by the Cleveland Foundation, the new report Cleveland's Greater University Circle Initiative: Building a 21st Century City through the Power of Anchor Institution Collaboration provides a thorough overview of a long-term partnership among some of the city's key anchor institutions to foster inclusive, place-based community economic development.

2013 was a good year to become a worker-owned company. Although just a selection of some of the newest worker-owners on the block, we highlight 17 new and existing businesses that were founded as or transitioned into worker-ownership in 2013. If these businesses are local to you, we encourage you to support and welcome your newly worker-owned neighbors.

As we mentioned in our January newsletter, Marjorie Kelly has joined the Democracy Collaborative as a Senior Fellow and Director of Advisory Services. Previously, Marjorie was a Fellow with the Tellus Institute in Boston, where she led a variety of consulting and research projects, including co-founding Corporation 20/20, a five-year initiative that brought together hundreds of leaders from business, finance, civil society, and law to explore how to redesign corporations to integrate social and environmental concerns into their governing DNA.

In April of 2013, Democracy Collaborative Executive Director Ted Howard was invited by the Governor's Task Force on Social Innovation, Enterpreneurship, and Enterprise to present our recommendations for low-cost, high return policies that could build community wealth across the state of Illinois.

With this month marking the 50th anniversary of the “War on Poverty,” we have seen a number of retrospectives. President Obama delivered this statement and the White House’s Council of Economic Advisors offered a 50-page report. Others chiming in include the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the Pew Research Center, and the Center for American Progress.

It's been an incredible 12 months at the Democracy Collaborative, and we thought we should take the time to collect all the new projects and publications we've worked on in 2013 to advance the field of community wealth building.

Recently, the Hospital Accountability Project (HAP) and the Democracy Collaborative co-hosted a webinar, “Community Benefit and Anchor Institutions: Linkages and Opportunities,” exploring how the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) community benefit requirements may be opening new doors to work on economic development initiatives that benefit communities. Over the course of this blog series, we will begin to make those connections. 

A wide network of diverse organizations and initiatives, including nonprofit community development corporationscommunity land trusts that develop and maintain low-income housing, community development financial institutions, and employee- and community-owned cooperatives now dot the landscape, a promising sign of the growing traction of innovative solutions to solve economic challenges in our communities.

Melissa Hoover is the Executive Director of the United States Federation of Worker Cooperatives (USFWC), the national membership organization for worker cooperatives, founded in 2004.  She is also a founding director of the nonprofit Democracy at Work Institute, which provides technical assistance resources to worker cooperatives. 

A recent article in Atlantic Cities by Richard Florida, titled "Where 'Eds and Meds' Industries Could Become a Liability," has caused a bit of a stir. The article warns that relying on anchor institutions such as local universities and hospitals (also known as “eds and meds”) for economic development is chancy. 

On November 5th, residents of Boulder, Colorado went to the polls to decide whether or not the city should continue on its path towards a locally controlled public utility devoted to expanding renewable energy and reducing carbon emissions. At issue was ballot question 310, an initiative backed by the existing corporate provider Xcel Energy that would have crippled the city’s municipalization efforts by placing severe debt and other restrictions on the process.

A few weeks ago, Oberlin College, with an endowment of nearly $700 million, adopted what is likely the largest impact-investing platform to date by a college or university in the United States. Although Oberlin is just one institution, the decision provides a hopeful sign of an accelerating institutional shift toward greater socially responsible investment practices. A tremendous opportunity exists. Higher education as a sector controls more than $400 billion in endowment assets.