Choice of Entity and Taxation Handout An overview of the different legal entities and tax statuses that your worker-owned business can choose from.
Template LLC Operating Agreement A sample operating agreement, written for a Michigan LLC that is operating as a worker cooperative
User’s Guide to the Template Operating Agreement A list of practical questions about cooperative governance. We recommend that you first answer this before formalizing your business structures.
Cooperative and Worker Ownership Decision Matrix A chart that identifies key decisions related to democratic self-management (PDF and Excel) and presents different options to consider (PDF and Excel).
Connections Handout A comprehensive list of business development organizations and resources in the metro Detroit area.
Before Seeking Investors Know About Securities Laws Important information to know before you start seeking investors on securities law, or the regulations regarding selling interests or getting loans to your new business.
Co-op Funding Resources
Michigan Uniform Securities Act Small Business Capital Formation Options and Requirements This is a one page piece from the Michigan Corp and Securities Bureau showing the capital raising options & requirements for small businesses.
Commonwealth Revolving Loan Fund Founded in 1987, the Common Wealth Revolving Loan Fund is a non-profit community development financial institution whose purpose is to lend money to employee-owned companies or co-ops for expansion, facilities, machinery and equipment, vehicles, and working capital or for employee-buyouts. CWRLF serves borrowers located in Ohio and the nearby areas of contiguous states.
Cooperative Fund of New England A community development financial institution (CDFI) that is a bridge between socially responsible investors and cooperatives, community-oriented non-profits, and worker-owned buinesses in New England. Since 1975, CFNE had made over 700 loans, totaling over $37million, creating/retaining over 9,900 jobs and 5,400 housing units across the region.
Local Enterprise Assistance Fund LEAF’s mission is to promote human and economic development by providing financing and development assistance to cooperatives and social purpose ventures that create and save jobs for low-income people. Since its founding over 30 years ago, LEAF has invested and leveraged over $91 million, resulting in the creation or retention of more than 6,600 jobs. LEAF lends nationally, with a focus on community-owned natural food cooperatives that create high quality jobs and provide access to healthy food in urban and rural communities; low-income cooperative housing developments; and worker-owned firms and other community-based businesses and social enterprises.
National Cooperative Bank National Cooperative Bank (NCB) provides comprehensive banking services to cooperatives and other member-owned organizations throughout the country, placing special emphasis on serving the needs of communities that are economically challenged. NCB’s customers are cooperatives, such as grocery wholesaler co-ops, purchasing co-ops or housing co-ops. By dramatically leveraging our appropriation from Congress, NCB has succeeded in growing the original $184 million capitalization to more than $4 billion in specialized lending, investments, and technical assistance to underserved communities across the country.
Capital Impact Partners Capital Impact Partners is a community development financial institution with a commitment to co-op development. Their website includes general information about what is a co-op and a guide to housing co-op development. There are also links to other co-ops sites.
North County Cooperative Development Fund Based in Minneapolis, NCDF is a cooperatively-owned community development loan fund committed to fostering economic democracy by investing in cooperative enterprises. NCDF currently serves more than 170 owner-members in 30 states, including natural food, consumer, producer, housing and worker-owned cooperatives. Since 1978, NCDF has originated over $31 million in cooperative financing and is a federally-certified community development finance institution (CDFI)
One Pacific Coast Bank/ Beneficial State Bank Beneficial State Bank (formerly One PacificCoast Bank, FSB & OneCalifornia Bank) is an Oakland, California-based community development bank. Founded in 2007, Beneficial State Bank functions as a regulated financial institution, but provides commercial banking services to underserved small and medium-size businesses, non-profits, affordable-housing developers, community facilities, as well as families and individuals in the Bay Area. In December 2010, OneCalifornia bank acquired ShoreBank Pacific and changed its name to One PacificCoast Bank. The merger greatly expanded the Bank's reach on the West Coast, and enhanced its capacity to serve its mission. ShoreBank Pacific, a pioneer of environmentally sustainable banking, began operations in 1997 in Ilwaco, Washington, at the mouth of the Columbia River, and grew to establish offices in Portland and Seattle. Joining forces with OneCalifornia Bank produced an enlarged footprint covering a bio-regional territory some call the Salmon Nation and united the forces of social justice and ecological banking - the merged banks have $300 million in combined assets and serve California, Oregon and Washington.
Rainbow Cooperative Grocery Coop Grants Established in 1975, Rainbow Grocery coop is a Bay Area worker-owned cooperative offering organic and locally sourced products with a workforce of over 220 people. Rainbow Grocery's Cooperative Grant Program aims to foster the growth of existing or start-up worker-owned cooperatives and collectives. Rainbow is particularly invested in funding cooperatives that are striving to: function democratically and non-hierarchically at all levels of their business/organization or build a cooperative in a community underserved by their type of businesses or by cooperative structures in general.
Valley Interco-operative Loan Fund Based in Western Massachusetts. It is a membership organization of 11 worker cooperative located in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont. The organization provides technical and organizational assistance to members. They also provide marketing support and financial assistance to members. One of their objectives is to educate the public about how cooperatives can create jobs in the community. They are dedicating to promoting the growth of a cooperative economy in western MA and southern VT. Their website includes educational information for their members and for others interested in developing new co-ops. This website includes access to Erbin Crowell’s master’s paper which was cited as a useful resource in the survey for those who are interested in promoting co-op led development.
Organizations in the Worker Ownership-Sphere
1worker1vote.org and Mondragon International North America (MINA) are building a national network of unionized worker-owned cooperative businesses to overcome opportunity, mobility, and income inequality. Union co-ops are based on the Mondragon principles dedicated to growing equal share equity for workers, fomenting solidarity, and building local living economies. Union co-ops operating under the Mondragon principles make sure no worker community – organized, unorganized, or alternative – is left behind.
Cincinnati Union Co-op Initiative (CUCI) is a non-profit that partners with individuals and organizations to create worker-owned businesses that sustain families. CUCI emerged from the historic partnership between Mondragon, the world’s most successful network of worker-cooperatives, and the United Steelworkers in October of 2009.
CooperationWorks CooperationWorks! is a national organization of cooperative development centers and practitioners that span the breadth of the United States. Using innovative strategies and proven business practices, CW Centers provide expertise across all aspects of co-op enterprise development, including feasibility analysis, business plan development, business launch and on-going training for operational success.
Democracy at Work Network The Democracy at Work Network (DAWN) is a project of the U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives. DAWN was created to ensure that further growth in the worker cooperative movement actively reaches those economically marginalized workers who need sustainable jobs the most. DAWN is a network of certified peer advisors, all with strong social and professional ties, who cooperate in training themselves and providing technical assistance services to worker cooperatives. DAWN's goals are to 1) meet the demand for technical assistance and development advice with high-quality services, and 2) increase worker cooperative technical assistance capacity from inside the movement.
Data Commons Cooperative The Data Commons Cooperative is a cooperative of data-sharing organizations that promote the cooperative economy. The co-op not only serves these communities, it is owned by them. The Data Commons Co-op, like a food or housing co-op, is owned by its members. This co-op is a way to share the cost of tending a commons of overlapping data, and realizing the benefits that brings to all. The cooperative’s first major initiative is to create a decentralized database of entities working toward an ethical economy. Updates made to the Data Commons at any time, by any organization, are sent throughout the cooperative, creating the most accurate and up-to-date directory the movement has seen.
ESOP Association The ESOP Association is a membership organization composed of companies with employee ownership and those transitioning to employee ownership status. This non-profit organization provides educational materials and training seminars necessary for the successful management of employee-owned companies.
National Center for Employee Ownership Founded in 1981, the NCEO is a non-profit membership and research organization that provides practical rescourses and objective, reliable information on employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs), equity compensation plans, and ownership culture. The 3,000-plus member based includes employee ownership companies, academics, and consultants.
Ohio Employee Ownership Center Established in 1987, the OEOC is a non-profit, university-based program at Kent State University to provide outresearch, information, and preliminary technical assistant to Ohio employees and business owners interested in exploring employee ownership. OEOC is spefically focused on ) business owners looking to exit their businesses 2) owners interested in selling their businesses to their employees 3) employee gropus, local governments, and community groups seeking to avoid business shutdowns and community job loss and 4) existing employee-owneed companies that seek improvement
US Federation of Worker Cooperatives The US Federation of Worker Cooperatives (USFWC) was established in 2004 as the national grassroots membership organization for worker cooperative businesses. Membership includes over 100 democratic workplaces, cooperatives, developers and organizations that support worker cooperatives representing over 1,600 individual worker-owners. USFWC connects worker coopperative members to benefits, to each other and to the larger cooperative and economic justice movements.
Democracy Collaborative Established in 2000, the Democracy Collaborative The Democracy Collaborative is a national leader in equitable, inclusive and sustainable development through its Community Wealth Building Initiative. This initiative sustains a wide range of Advisory, Research and Field Building activities designed to transform the practice of community/economic development in the United States. Another important program is the Next System Project, ongoing intellectual work designed to connect Community Wealth Building to the larger context of systemic economic transformation. Democracy Collaborative is involved in a wide range of projects involving research, training, policy development, and community-focused work designed to promote an asset-based paradigm of economic development and increase support for transformative strategies among community stakeholders, anchor institutions, and key policymakers.
The Food Co-op Initiative The Food Co-op Initiative is a foundation that provides a rich array of resources for groups that want to start a food co-op. The website includes webinars as well as information structured around to FCI’s development model. There are step-by-step guides, a financial toolbox; templates and specialized information to aid groups in developing their governance, budgets and planning of the startup. The site also provides links to other useful resources.
The International Cooperative Alliance The International Cooperative Alliance is the official web site of the alliance of cooperatives at a global level. The website provides information and statistics about cooperatives worldwide, basic information about cooperatives, co-op identity, co-op legislation and proceedings and resources from past regional and international conferences. The ICA developed collected stories of co-ops from around the world and in different co-op sectors for the International Year of the Cooperative in 2012.
National Cooperative Business Alliance NCBA is the national trade association for cooperatives in the USA. It provides cross sector education, training and advocacy. Their web based resources include information about the various co-op sectors; an archive of webinars; and an events calendar of co-op conferences. Some resources are restricted to members.
Northcountry Cooperative Foundation Northcountry Cooperative Foundation. Promotes the development of communities through cooperatives. The foundation has supported the development of training materials to support worker and housing co-op development.
Education and Cooperative Research
Cultivate.coop Cultivate.Coop is an online hub for pooling knowledge and resources on cooperatives. It is a space to collect free information for those interested in cooperatives and where people can build useful educational tools for the co-op community.
CommunityWealth.org Community-Wealth.org is a project of The Democracy Collaborative and has a breadth of resources related to worker ownership includes extensive list of resources around research, toolboxes, and organizations that support cooperative development.
Democracy at Work Institute The Democracy at Work Institute is building a comprehensive Resource Library to include a wide range of materials, including academic papers, start-up toolkits, curriculum samples, actual documents from existing worker cooperatives, and more. The topic list below provides a map of the resources that will be available.
Curriculum on Cooperatives Grad School Curriculum made available around Cooperative Management.
Co-opoly: The Game of Co-operatives Co-opolyis an educational scenario board game that is enjoyable for all groups from those new to co-ops to members of co-ocps. It can be purchased from TESA by itself or as part of training on cooperatives. The game works well for newcomers to co-ops or for those with more advanced knowledge of co-ops
University of Wisconsin - Center for Cooperative Studies Established in 1962, the UW Center for Cooperatives pursues a research, educational, and outreach agenda that examines cooperative issues across multiple business and social sectors. The Torgerson Cooperative Library, part of the University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives, is one of the largest cooperative collections in the world, with over 7,000 books, extensive subject files, a large archive collection and many journals.
Extension EXtension is a web based collaborative site of Land Grant universities. The site includes a wide range of resources for cooperative extension services to serve agricultural interests. It also has co-op content where collaborative members can share research-based knowledge on the cooperative business model in agriculture and rural communities. The target audiences according to the survey are: agriculturists, general readers, youth, and instructors.
National Farmers Union National Farmers Union provides links to the state councils and other co-op resources, and a history of cooperatives.
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Rural Development This site includes an extensive array of publications and research reports about cooperatives in rural America. Historically, the emphasis has been on agricultural cooperatives.
David Ellerman Website Website by David Ellerman, an economist and cofounder of the ICA Group. This site includes his writings on democratic firms and the labor theory of property. This site is intended for advanced theoretical discussions of labor economics and employee ownership.
Legal Resources and Policy Initiatives
East Bay Community Law Center Green-Collar Communities Clinic (GC3):IN 2012, Sushil Jacob launched new community economic development clinic. GC3 provides free, integrated legal and business assistance to low-income entrepreneurs and nonprofits who seek to create cooperative and environmentally-sustainable ventures.
Consulting Services, Trainings and Toolboxes
Cooperative Development Services Cooperative Development Services is a consulting group that provides a broad range of services for startups and existing co-ops
Cooperative Works! Cooperative Works! is a national organization of cooperative development centers and practitioners engaged in co-op development. The association sponsors a three part professional development training twice yearly at the University of Wisconsin, Madison in the spring and fall. The CW! Training provides participants with training materials that can be used in their work developing cooperatives. The target audience is CW! members, staff, and independent development consultants.
Democracy at Work Institute The Democracy at Work Institute offers consulting services to cooperatives, cooperative developers, and organizations exploring whether and how to undertake cooperative development. Services include a network of peer advisors, business and cooperative training, as well as referrals to expereinced professionals. It focuseses on expanding cooperative business ownership to reach those communities most directly affected by social and economic inequality.
Green Worker Coop, Coop Academy Curriculum Prepares coop entrepreneurs to start up new worker cooperative businesses. Trainings occur over a 24 week period for prospective entrepreneurs with an interest in businesses that will be worker owned and green. Participants work as a team on the startup of a new green worker co-op. Preference is given to groups from the South Bronx, New York.
American Worker Cooperative This site was developed by John Whitman with contributions of a number of colleagues to provide a centralized wiki for anyone interested in how to start a worker co-op. There are links to a wide range of topics related to the successful development of worker co-ops. One source identified through the survey is “28 Questions for Your Worker Cooperative to Answer Before Meeting with Your Incorporation Lawyer.” Another resource that can be accessed from this site that was cited as worthwhile is Think Outside the Boss. Resources on this site are appropriate both for developing curriculum in higher education as well as for a general audience.
Cooperative Development Institute Cooperative Development Instituteis a cooperative development center servicing New York and New England. The website includes CDI's How to Start a Co-op Packet PDF file which outlines the basics of co-operatives and has other resources for groups interested in starting a cooperative. In addition, CDI maintains a blog that links to educational opportunities, job opportunities and various links to introduction sites and toolboxes.
Cooperatives UK UK cooperative website with information to aid in starting a co-op. The website includes links to information for startups and conversions of existing business, case examples and a directory of UK cooperatives
Worker Cooperative Start Up Guides This webpage highlights over twenty start-up toolkits for forming worker cooperatives in the United States