From an upholstery cooperative to a worker-owned greenhouse, the Wellspring Collaborative is rebuilding the economically struggling communities of Springfield, MA. This article from MassLive, a local news site for Western Massachusetts, reports on the Wellspring Collaborative—one of eleven case studies from our newest report, Educate and Empower: Tools For Building Community Wealth.
The upholstery company is the umbrella organization's first business, with a worker-owned greenhouse in the works. While building a small but dependable staff has proven more difficult than expected, according to Wellspring's directors, the upholstery company has been able to rope in loyal and repeat business from what economists call "anchor institutions," namely hospital groups and colleges such as Baystate Health and the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
"With a modest amount of start-up money—about $160,000—Wellspring incubated an upholstery cooperative currently employing five individuals, two of whom are citizens returning from the incarceration system. Six people are expected to become cooperative members in the first year, with further build-up over the second," the report goes on to say.
The Democracy Collaborative has been helpful to Wellspring from the get-go, Kawano said. The organization was heavily involved in the formation of the Cleveland Evergreen Cooperatives, which provided the inspiration and framework for Wellspring.