We are a community-based small business incubator for the new local economy -- built on relationships that value long-term sustainability and act on common sense. Most incubators are focused on high growth opportunities in areas like technology and pharmaceuticals. We, on the other hand, see opportunity at the other end of the spectrum -- small, local and regional enterprises that serve the daily needs for our local community. These enterprises may range from neighborhood-scale projects to regional industry systems.
A keystone project of the Local Economy Institute is to identify places across the country that are hubs of emerging leadership in economic localization. For now, we are identifying these places as physical brick-and-mortar places to incubate and showcase local solutions for better and smarter living. This project launched in April 2012. To learn more and see a listing of known Local Economy Centers, please click here. Phase = Identifying other Centers around the US
Cooperative & Worker-Owned Business Training Program
Upcoming workshop! 1/26/13 Cooperative Business Models & Worker Ownership with Co-op Development Specialist Andrew McLeod. Get tickets here.
The United States is seeing a resurgence of interest in the cooperative business model for many reasons. Shared ownership through worker cooperatives or ESOPs (employee stock ownership plans) provide:
more engaged, responsible and vested workers,
more equalized distribution of wealth in the community,
higher job satisfaction,
an opportunity for workers to share in the entrepreneurial spirit, and
a structure through which business owners can pass lessons on to the next generation.
While co-ops contribute billions to the national economy, there are very few training programs to help train people in this business model. A lack of formalized training can be a barrier to establishing cooperative or worker-owned businesses. We are seeking funding to develop a cooperative and employee-owned business training program. This will be a workforce development program that focuses on functioning models, tools and resources for worker-owned or worker-engaged businesses. Training would apply to all sectors of business, from retail to local manufacturing. It is also important to view worker ownership within a broader cooperative context, including credit unions and other consumer co-ops, as well as marketing and purchasing co-ops whose members are farmers and other entrepreneurs. Phase = Research, development and feasibility, seeking partners
The Sonoma County Production Company is a strategy and pilot program to further Economic Localization by reintroducing regional-scale manufacturing, local food production and worker ownership. The idea is to identify local production opportunities using an "import substitution" methodology. After opportunities are identified we would conduct economic and marketing feasibility studies to verify business potential. Next we would conduct small-scale pilot programs to test the business concepts. If key milestones are reached, the next phase would be a larger roll-out of the business with support services to ensure long-term success. If successful, these businesses would result in permanent and local jobs. Phase = seeking partners
The Made Local Marketplace is a 1.5 year old pilot retail outlet for locally made products. The pilot is located in Santa Rosa, CA in the Share Exchange local economy center. Over 250 local artisans and producers have been represented in the 400 square foot store. With a long waiting list, the main limitation of the store is space. We would add more local, fresh and preserved foods as well as more items for daily living if we had additional square footage. Phase = moving toward community ownership, seeking partners