What does a cooperative economy look like?

neicHere at P6, we’re always thinking about how to build a cooperative economy. Supporting small, local, and cooperative products within grocery co-ops helps build the cooperative chain back to producers. Our members are always thinking about how to expand the co-op movement in all directions. Member store Eastside Food Co-op planted a seed of cooperation in the Northeast neighborhood of Minneapolis when they opened in 2003. Leaders from EFC, including former Board Member Leslie Watson and General Manager Amy Fields among many others, have also started a venture to build another way for members of the Northeast Community to own the development coming into their neighborhood. The Northeast Investment Co-op was featured in Yes! Magazine, demonstrating what cooperative economy could look like across sectors. Here’s an excerpt:

In 2011, a group of dedicated neighbors came together to change that. In November of that year, five of them, including Watson, became the founding board of the Northeast Investment Cooperative, a first-of-its-kind in the U.S. cooperative engaged in buying and developing real estate. NEIC created a structure where any Minnesota resident could join the co-op for $1,000, and invest more through the purchase of different classes of nonvoting stock. The group began spreading the word to prospective members, and started looking for a building to buy.

One year later, NEIC had enough members to buy the two buildings on Central Avenue for cash. The co-op quickly sold one of the buildings to project partner Recovery Bike Shop, and after a gut renovation, which it funded with a 2 percent loan from the city and a loan from local Northeast Bank, it leased the other building to two young businesses that had struggled to find workable space elsewhere, Fair State Brewing Cooperative and Aki’s BreadHaus. Today, NEIC’s impact spreads beyond the intersection of Central and Lowry. It’s catalyzed the creation of new jobs, engaged its more than 200 members in reimagining their neighborhood, and given residents a way to put their capital to work in their local economy.

Read the full article here and note that one of the tenants of the buidling, Fair State Brewing, is itself a consumer cooperative.. What ideas are happening in your community to build a cooperative economy?

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