Municipal Enterprise

Tompkins County Area Development

Established in 1964, Tompkins County Area Development (TCAD) helps foster a thriving and sustainable economy by a) growing, retaining, and attracting companies that provide high-quality employment opportunities, and b) creating an environment supportive of entrepreneurship and business development.  In 2017, TCAD supported 22 projects expected to invest $142.9 million in the Ithaca region.  To help entrepreneurs launch and expand businesses, TCAD established its Revolving Loan Fund Program in 1989, an effort credited with lending $3.1 million to 68 companies that have created or retained over 1,100 jobs.  TCAD also provides management and administrative support to two County entities:  1) the Tompkins County Development Corporation, which provides educational and nonprofit projects with access to low-interest rate debt in the tax-exempt bond market; and 2) the Tompkins County Industrial Development Agency (TCIDA), which provides economic incentives to projects that will strengthen the County’s tax base and enhance community vitality.  To foster renewable energy generation, TCIDA adopted a commercial solar policy in 2017 that provides a property tax incentive to community solar projects, an effort that is credited with supporting six projects expected to generate 12 megawatts of solar power (i.e., enough to power 2,400 to 3,600 homes).

Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport

Owned by Tompkins County, the Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport serves over 200,000 passengers, generates nearly $456,000 in sales tax revenue, and injects over $30 million into the local economy on an annual basis.  In the fall of 2018, construction will begin on a $24.5 million renovation project that will double the size of its existing facility when completed in 2019.

Muni Fiber Models

Institute for Local Self Reliance

San Diego Gas & Electric Company

Incorporated in 1881, the San Diego Gas & Electric Company (SDG&E) is a regulated public utility with 4,000 employees providing energy services to 3.6 million people in San Diego and southern Orange counties.  Focused on environmental sustainability, 45 percent of its electricity is from renewable sources, well above the national average of 8 percent.  SDG&E also operates an Energy Innovation Center, from which it provides area residents and businesses free energy education and training, meeting space, and access to more than 100 energy-measuring tools through its Tool, Book, and DVD Library.  Also committed to supplier diversity, SDG&E offers supplier development and technical assistance, contractor safety workshops, and related events geared towards diverse business enterprises.  In 2017, SDG&E directed 44.6 percent of its contract spending to diverse businesses, more than double the California Public Utilities Commission’s annual goal of 21.5 percent.

Democratic Public Ownership for the 21st Century

The Cooperative Party

Noting that a majority of British residents support public ownership of the railways and key utilities, this new paper from the Co-Operative Party calls for modern forms of democratic public ownership. The authors outline how democratic public ownership can lead to productivity gains and protection from government underinvestment in critical infrastructure. The paper outlines what ownership could look like across rail, water, and energy, making actionable recommendations in each sector

Making the Federal Reserve Fully Public: Why and How

Jordan Haedtler, Andrew Levin and Valerie Wilson
The Center for Popular Democracy

Tacoma’s TAGRO

Made and sold by the City, TAGRO (short for Tacoma Grow) are organic lawn and garden products for landscaping, vegetable gardens, and indoor container gardens.  The City makes about 32,000 cubic yards of TAGRO a year by recycling thousands of tons of biosolids and then sells the products at low-cost to commercial and residential users across Tacoma to encourage environmentally-friendly landscaping and gardening practices.  The City also maintains a demonstration garden at its central wastewater plant and donates its produce to area food banks.

Reclaiming Public Services

Satoko Kishimoto, Olivier Petitjean and Lavinia Steinfor
The Transnational Institute

This new report from the Transnational Institute (TNI) explores how localities across the globe are fighting privatization through the “re-municipalization” of goods and services. Drawing on 835 examples in 45 countries, the report finds that public ownership offers greater efficiency, affordability, and democratic control in sectors ranging from healthcare to energy. The report synthesizes trends in public ownership and includes detailed infographics on the findings. 


The Shape of a New Economy

Ralph Nader
Ralph Nader Radio Hour

Gar Alperovitz is an historian, political economist, activist, writer, and government official.  In addition to a distinguished career in academia, he is also the a co-founder of the Democracy Collaborative, a research institution developing practical, policy-focused, and systematic paths towards ecologically sustainable, community-oriented change and the democratization of wealth.  His latest project is called the “Pluralist Commonwealth,” which is an economic model that is neither traditional corporate capitalism nor traditional state socialism.

Listen to Gar's interview with Ralph Nader here

If it Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It: Potential Impacts of Privatizing the Tennessee Valley Authority

Joel Yudken

This report presents an overview of the debate over privatizing the Tennessee Valley Authority. It evaluates the pros and cons; summarizes the agency’s organizational, financial, and economic situation; and examines the potential implications of privatization for ratepayers, communities, and the regional economy. 

The Power of Community: How community-owned renewable energy can help Ontario create a powerful economic advantage

Judith Lipp and Brett Dolter

This new report from TREC, an Ontario, Canada based developer of community-owned renewable energy and member of the Federation of Community Power Co-operatives, assesses opportunities to build community wealth stemming from Ontario’s Feed-In-Tariff program (FIT), which provides higher payment rates to renewable energy providers. The report recommends focusing the FIT on cooperatively-owned, First Nations-owned, and municipally-owned enterprises, finding that that every dollar spent on such community-owned energy efforts results in $2 more in additional local economic activity. The authors suggest publically-funded loan guarantees to grow the capacity of these enterprises.

Dallas Farmers Market

Tracing its history back to the late 19th century when area farmers came together to sell their goods, the Dallas Farmers Market was officially established as a municipally-owned and operated market in 1941.  Today, the market encompasses a 26,000 square-foot food hall and artisanal vendor market, as well as “The Shed,” an open-air pavilion featuring vendors that grow, raise, make, and produce food.  In 2015, the Market opened a community garden to help area residents learn how to sustainably grow their own produce, and plans are now underway to develop a recreational space for futsal (a five-a-side version of soccer) in order to engage the community in health and fitness activities.