Our Second Newsletter - RMEOC Progress Report
On the Cutting Edge of a New Economy Movement
When we launched our enterprise in 2010, we were not fully aware of the urgency and significance of what we were attempting to do. We did not realize that we would be on the cutting edge of what is being described as the emerging “new economy.” Nor were we fully aware of the long-term consequences of the so-called “down-turn,” the political paralysis at home and upheaval abroad. At this time in history, the following comment seems most appropriate: “With the government and banks unwilling or unable, it’s time we took matters into our own hands. Who else can we count on?”1
Our Work - Creating Wealth on Main Street
“Those without money are as unfree as those without tickets. Without cash in a market society, you’re free to do nothing, to have very little and to die young.”2 Real wealth is created on Main Street. Main Street consists of local businesses engaged in producing goods and services to support their workers along with their families and communities. Real wealth is that which has intrinsic value such as “healthful food, fertile land, pure water, clean air, caring relationships and loving parents, education, health care, fulfilling opportunities for service, and time for meditation and spiritual reflection.”3
The worker-owned cooperative business model is taking center-stage in a “new-economy.” Worker-co-ops are businesses owned by the employees and organized according to democratic principles. “A widely discussed strategy in Cleveland, Ohio suggests a possible next stage of (new economy) development: the Evergreen Cooperatives….” Located in economically devastated neighborhoods, the Evergreen Cooperative includes “a thoroughly green industrial-scale laundry, a solar installation company and soon-to-be opened large-scale greenhouse.” Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown is expected to introduce national legislation aimed at developing Evergreen-style models in other cities.4
Employee Stock Ownership Plans
In a recent speech, the Governor of Iowa, Terry Branstad, stated: “We must work to keep companies in Iowa, even when an ownership change takes place…I am proposing legislation that will encourage the formation of Employee Stock Option Plans to encourage the sale of local businesses to the very employees who have made that company a profitable success. Our plan will encourage more Iowans to own a stake in their company, to reap a greater share of the fruits of their own labor, and to help protect the quality of life in their local community."5
On February 21, 2012, our application for a 501(c)(3) non-profit tax status was approved. This was one important forward step in our effort to launch a recognized Employee-Ownership Center in the Rocky Mountain Region. We are currently in the process of recruiting a Board of Directors who will provide for governance requirements and other services necessary for a successful non-profit.
Dick Peterson, RMEOC Director of Operations, had an article published in The Denver Post: “Guest Commentary: The Value of Employee-owned Companies,” and was interviewed by David Sirota on our local radio station AM760.
We have met with members of our “expert” list of professionals who can assist in forming a cooperative or a Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) to enlist their perspective and input in relation to our work. The expert list can be found on our website.
We have joined the Metro North and the Denver Chambers of Commerce. We are developing connections with business owners who might want to consider the option of selling their businesses their employees.
In the fall of 2012, we will be providing training opportunities to unemployed or under-employed persons in how to start businesses. A professional business-development consultant will be providing the training.
We are currently working with a group led by Beverly Grant to create a community-based, worker-owned enterprise in Five Points, a low-income Denver neighborhood. Our intention is to create a model for worker-co-op development that can be used in other communities. This project utilizes the leadership of a professional Appreciative Inquiry community development consultant, as well as the assistance of Marcia Flynt, a Phd. candidate from the Colorado Technical University, whose focus is on community-based economic development.
We are planning to expand our community-based worker-cooperative development activity into a neighborhood in Aurora. This project would involve consultants from the Denver Foundation, representatives from the City of Aurora, and community organizers from local faith-based organizations.
Other projects and people with whom we are having conversations in regard to cooperative enterprise formation include: Solar Gardens, Veterans to Farmers, HaHo Market, Blue Star Recycling, and the Community Reentry program.
We are in contact with representatives of the Evergreen Cooperatives in Cleveland. We will be inviting a representative of Evergreen to come to Denver, or we will be traveling to Cleveland in an effort to acquaint ourselves with their operation.
Our Director of Operations, Dick Peterson, attended the 2012 conferences sponsored by the National Center for Employee Ownership (NCEO), the Ohio Employee Ownership Center (OEOC), and the Vermont Employee Ownership Center (VEOC). These events provided the opportunity for networking with others in worker-cooperative and ESOP employee-ownership business development.
Bill Kirton, Communications Director, has created numerous ads, flyers and power point presentations for RMEOC. He participated in a week-long course on Appreciative Inquiry, developing skills that contribute to the culture of successful employee-ownership enterprises.
As administrator and editor of this website, Larry Dunn continues to update it with articles on employee ownership, a list of employee-owned companies in Colorado, other organizations around the country that promote employee ownership, and information on the Evergreen Cooperatives of Cleveland, Ohio.
We Advocate for Cooperation and Sharing
In contrast to the ‘economic man” theory that lies behind traditional economic thinking, there is a natural fit between people and a sharing system. Sometimes, when individuals realize that they really are involved in a genuine sharing system, they go through a considerable psychological upheaval—a really positive change in their view of the world, of their place in it and their feelings about it. Enormous energy can be released: there is a transformation from suspicion to trust, from lack of commitment to strong commitment, from holding back to plunging in, from disappointed wariness to confident hope.
David Erdal, "Beyond the Corporation, Humanity Working"
The form of association, however, which, if mankind continues to improve, must be expected in the end to predominate, is not that which can exist between a capitalist as chief, and workpeople without a voice in the management, but the association of the laborers themselves on terms of equality, collectively owning the capital with which they carry on their operations, and working under managers elected and removable by themselves.
John Stuart Mill, "Principles of Political Economy", 1848
1. "We Can All Become Job Creators", Joe Nocera, New York Times, 5/13/2012
2. "The Value of Nothing", Raj Patel
3. "Agenda for a New Economy: From phantom wealth to real wealth", David Korten
4. "The New-Economy Movement", Gar Alperovitz, The Nation, 5/25/2011
5. "2012 Condition of the State Address", Governer Terry Branstad