Worker Cooperatives

Rochester’s Market Driven Community Cooperatives Corporation: A Feasibility Analysis & Implementation Plan

Jessica Bonanno, Violeta Duncan and Ted Howard

The City of Rochester's Office of Innovation, under the leadership of Mayor Lovely Warren, has been coordinating a project to develop worker-owned cooperative businesses as part of a comprehensive wealth building strategy for Rochester, New York.

In 2015 the City engaged The Democracy Collaborative, a group with extensive expertise from similar work in Cleveland Ohio in connection with the Evergreen Cooperatives and the Greater University Circle Initiative. The Democracy Collaborative completed a study in February 2016 that documented incredible potential for the project, a high degree of community support including local Anchor Institution buy-in, as well as several potential business niches for future worker-owned businesses. The report also includes an implementation plan to move the project forward in two additional phases, the first of which was approved to proceed by the Rochester City Council on March 22nd, 2016.

Workers to Owners 1-Day Seminar

April 11th, 2016
Hilton Minneapolis - 1001 South Marquette Avenue Minneapolis, MN 55403

On April 11, our Executive Vice President & Senior Fellow Marjorie Kelly will speak at this one day event hosted by Workers to Owners "to move the needle forward on an exciting trend in sustainable economic development: converting existing businesses to worker ownership." Read more about Workers to Owners 1-Day Seminar...

Tamarack Media

Tamarack Media is a multimedia production company with expertise in documentary production, environmental education, web design, advocacy, and writing.  By producing innovative media, the worker-owned cooperative aims to raise environmental awareness and help environmental organizations, businesses, and schools communicate their messages more effectively to new audiences.  Clients include foundations, nonprofits, businesses, educational institutions, and government agencies around the world. Read more about Tamarack Media...

Red House

Red House is a full-service building company with expertise in new construction, historic restorations, renovations, additions, cabinetry, custom woodworking, and metalworking.  After a decade working as a small custom building firm, Red House re-structured itself in 2003 as a worker-owned cooperative to nurture an environment that values employee creativity, energy, and commitment.  More than one-half of Red House’s 20 employees are now worker-owners.

Data Systems Inc. (DSI)

Founded in 1978, Data Systems Inc. (DSI) provides software solutions and ongoing support—including systems analysis and design, custom programming, and on-site training—to wholesalers, importers, manufacturers, and distributors.  As a worker-owned cooperative, DSI also has a vision of building and implementing software solutions to grow the cooperative economy and strengthen the regional food system.  Demonstrating this broader commitment, DSI developed a free, open-source application for worker co-ops that streamlines the process of managing member patronage and dividends.

Burlington Associates in Community Development

Founded in 1993, Burlington Associates in Community Development is a worker-owned consulting cooperative focused on supporting community land trusts (CLTs) and other shared equity homeownership strategies.  To do so, Burlington Associates specializes in developing and evaluating public policies and initiatives that: expand access to shared equity homeownership; protect community investment in affordable housing, transit-oriented development, urban agriculture, and neighborhood commercial districts; ensure the long-term stewardship of housing and other community assets; and nurture a “third sector” of nonprofits that can collaborate with government to deliver essential services to local communities.  To raise the standard of practice throughout the CLT movement, Burlington Associates developed a web-based CLT Resource Center in 2005 through which people can freely access training materials, technical documents, and research reports focused on the model.

Impact to Last: Lessons from the Front Lines of Social Enterprise

Ben Thornley, Jacquelyn Anderson and Lauren Dixon

In these eight case studies, REDF (a California-based nonprofit, has led the pioneering effort to create jobs and employment opportunities for people facing the greatest barriers to work) highlights the work of social enterprise leaders around the country. By surveying groups such as the Evergreen Cooperatives in Cleveland, Ohio, REDF showcases the principal drivers of achieving scale and success, and paving the way towards a more inclusive economy.

Broad-Based Ownership Models as Tools for Job Creation and Community Development

Marjorie Kelly, Steve Dubb and Violeta Duncan

As cities wrestle with the growing challenge of wealth inequality, more and more leaders are looking to broad-based ownership models as tools to create jobs and build community wealth. These models are highly effective, with a positive impact for low- and moderate-income individuals and communities. This report looks at six such models—ESOPs, Worker Cooperatives, CDFIs, Social Enterprises, Municipal Ownership, and Emerging Hybrids—with examples of best practices, and explores how these models can be used in community economic development.


Established by three Austin builders frustrated with being hourly workers, and interested in sharing tools and administrative responsibilities, Earthbound is a worker cooperative focused on providing high quality, environmentally responsible construction services.  The cooperative relies on natural building methods, local materials, and sustainable design principles to create spaces that are healthier to live in, more beautiful to look at, and better performing than conventional alternatives.

Polycot Associates

Founded as Polycot Consulting in 2001, Polycot Associates converted to a worker-cooperative in early 2014 with a mission to improve the world through inspiring and useful web technology, a humane worker-owned business structure, and a collaborative, responsive, transparent process.  With five current worker-owners, the cooperative specializes in leveraging open source tools to provide custom web development and design services.

4th Tap Brewing Co-op

From its conception over a decade ago when its founders began home brewing beer on a stovetop, 4th Tap Brewing Co-op celebrated its grand opening in November 2015.  It is the first worker-owned brewery in Texas, and one of the first in the United States.  Committed to brewing interesting beers, the worker-owners rely on many ingredients from Texas and serve beers directly from tanks in its taproom.

Dahlia Green Cleaning Services

Founded in 2012 by four women motivated to create just and dignified jobs in the cleaning industry, Dahlia Green Cleaning Services is the first worker-owned cooperative in Austin that specializes in green cleaning.  The business aims to create jobs with fair wages and equal opportunity, and relies on hand-made eco-friendly products to promote a healthy living environment for customers, members, and the planet.

How Economic Development Can Build 'Community Wealth'

Anne Field

Journalist Anne Field unpacts the Democracy Collaborative publication Educate and Empower: Tools for Building Community Wealth, highlighting the eleven case studies from the original report.

Transunion Car Service

Transunion Car Service is a union-supported cooperative launched in March 2015.  The company works 24 hours a day, seven days a week, relying on a cell phone app that customers use to access and pay for service.  Its 300 members benefit from union supports and protections, which include a credit union, affordable legal assistance for traffic court, immigration support, health care, life insurance, and pension benefits. Read more about Transunion Car Service...

Is it Time for a New New Deal?

James M. Larkin and Zach Goldhammer
The Nation
Our economy is broken. Could a universal basic income, child allowances, and worker-owned cooperatives fix it? The Democracy Collaborative's Gar Alperovitz, alongside other economists and activists, sheds light on the issue.

From New York to Oakland, CA, city governments support worker coops

New developments in expanding local legislation and funding towards worker cooperatives
Municipal involvement in worker cooperative development

On Thursday, September 24th, the Pope will address the U.S. Congress for the first time in history. Perhaps he will speak about building democracy, growing the economy, or increasing equality— and a mention of worker cooperatives could serve as a unifying theme. Read more about From New York to Oakland, CA, city governments support worker coops...