Municipal Enterprise


Manufactured and marketed by the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD), a government agency charged to provide water reclamation and flood management services to more than a million people in the Greater Milwaukee Area, Milorganite products are organic nitrogen fertilizers made from wastewater captured from the Milwaukee region. Established in 1926, the Milorganite program is considered one of the world’s largest recycling efforts. In FY 2013, MMSD sold 47,672 tons of Milorganite products, generating over $7.6 million. Read more about Milorganite...

O’Hare Airport

Officially opening in 1955, Chicago’s O’Hare airport is now the sixth largest airport in the world in terms of passengers per year.  The airport is credited with supporting 450,000 jobs in the Chicago region and generating $38 billion of economic activity.  With a strong commitment to sustainability, O’Hare houses the first airport-based rooftop aeroponic garden that provides airport vendors easy access to fresh produce, affords preferential treatment to compressed natural gas taxicabs, and runs a range of programs to encourage sustainable practices including wetlands restoration and soil reuse.  It also is the site of the largest airport-based apiary in the world, which provides job experience for disadvantaged populations through its partnership with Sweet Beginnings.

Cincinnati Southern Railway

Recognizing the need to transport natural resources of the South to the industrializing Midwest, Cincinnati developed a 337-mile railway to connect its City to Chattanooga, TN. Completed in 1880, the railway is still owned by the City of Cincinnati, making it the only municipality in the country to own an inter-state railroad. Today, Cincinnati leases the railway to the Cincinnati, New Orleans and Texas Pacific Railway (CNO&TP), an arrangement that has generated over $400 million in rent payments for the city since 1987. Read more about Cincinnati Southern Railway...

2014 Academy of Management Annual Meeting

August 2nd, 2014
Philadelphia, PA

Research Director Steve Dubb will be serve on a panel discussing "How can we use diverse forms of community and employee ownership to build wealth in low-income communities, promote sustainability and advance the principles of economic democracy." Read more about 2014 Academy of Management Annual Meeting ...

Kentucky City Begins Operating New Municipally-Owned Gas Station

A conservative-leaning city purchases a fuel center in an effort to drive down gas prices for local residents.

Earlier this month, the small city of Somerset, Kentucky drew national attention when it opened a municipally-owned and -operated fuel center in an effort to drive down gas prices for local residents. As a result of its proximity to Lake Cumberland, a popular tourist destination, the city of 11,000 residents has long struggled with high fuel prices—especially during the summer months between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Read more about Kentucky City Begins Operating New Municipally-Owned Gas Station...

After Piketty, the ownership revolution

Gar Alperovitz
Al Jazeera America

In an Al Jazeera article Democracy Collaborative co-founder Gar Alperovitz presents a critical perspective of Thomas Piketty’s best-selling book Capital in the Twenty-First Century— emphasizing how democratizing ownership of capital can address the vast wealth inequalities that Piketty so powerfully documents.

Q & A with Gar Alperovitz: The new economy movement is crystallising

Clare Goff
New Start Magazine

Democracy Collaborative co-founder Gar Alperovitz discussed the growing support behind democratizing wealth in an interview with New Start Magazine. 

The New Barnraising

Gareth Potts
German Marshall Fund of the United States

This new toolkit from the German Marshall Fund offers policies and practices to empower communities to preserve civic assets such as public parks, libraries, and recreation centers in the face of public and private resource constraints. Based on research conducted in Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul, and Baltimore, the guide offers a range of strategies to raise money, awareness, and community involvement for the preservation of community assets.

Boulder Sets Sights on Climate Change and Xcel Energy with Formation of Municipal Utility

Residents see public ownership as best way to address climate change
Since our last posting on Boulder’s municipalization efforts, the city has taken another big step forward and succeeded in creating its own power and light utility. Through the continued efforts of an informed, engaged, and environmentally conscious citizenry, Boulder is moving closer to its goal of significant emissions reductions through local control of its energy system.

Limits to Investment: Finance in the Anthropocene

Fullerton, John

In the latest publication in Great Transition Initiative’s sustainable development series, John Fullerton challenges the preeminence of modern finance. Limiting finance capital and the environmental deterioration and social instability that it encourages, Fullerton writes, requires transforming our economic system. By broadening public ownership of finance, through such means as sovereign wealth funds, public banking, and public utilities, Fullerton contends that nations can limit environmental degradation and manage long-term growth. 

Port of Richmond

The Port of Richmond is Central Virginia's domestic and international multi-modal freight and distribution gateway. The Port is owned by the City of Richmond and leased by the Virginia Port Authority. Since the lease was finalized in 2011, the city has earned over $200,000 in direct revenue and has experienced significant increase in freight traffic.

Department of Public Utilities

The City of Richmond’s Department of Public Utilities operates five utilities: natural gas, water, wastewater, stormwater, and electric street lighting. The utility serves more than 500,000 residential and commercial customers in the Richmond and the surrounding metropolitan region.

City Power Play: 8 Practical Local Energy Policies to Boost the Economy

John Farrell
Institute for Local Self Reliance

A recent report by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance reviews municipal enterprise models and energy policies from around the country that have helped cities reduce energy use, save money, and create local jobs. Profiling case studies in New York, Tennessee, and California, the report demonstrates that cities have a wide range of tools at their disposal to broaden the base of locally controlled wealth.

Boulder Residents Defeat Xcel Again

Largest German cities also pursue public ownership of grid and renewable energy goals

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. Just as they did in 2011 when city residents voted to form their own public utility, Xcel energy spent large amounts of money trying to influence local voters. This time around the company spent $800,000 dollars, bringing its total for both elections to approximately $1.8 million.