The manufacturing industry has a powerful and positive impact on overall economic development. Every dollar in sales of manufactured products supports approximately $1.33 from other sectors— the largest multiplier effect of any industry. We cannot build an economy that works for everyone without the strong economic backbone that manufacturing jobs provide. CUCI’s Manufacturing Initiative aims to bring Mondragon-style cooperative ownership to the manufacturing sector in Southwest Ohio, one of the nation’s leading manufacturing hubs. CUCI staff and volunteers are working closely with stakeholders including state and local government, the labor movement, and community advocates, to promote and facilitate the creation of and conversion to worker-owned manufacturing in Southwest Ohio. Harnessing CUCI’s expertise in co-op development and our industrial union partners’ deep knowledge of the industry, our goal is to create and save family-sustaining manufacturing jobs; open opportunities for training and advancement to workers who have been excluded from this sector, and support employers who prioritize people over profit.
A study of our region reveals that the majority of manufacturing jobs are in small- to mid-sized employers, many led by baby-boomer owners who may choose to retire in the coming years. CUCI is piloting an early warning system for Southwest Ohio based upon successful models from other key geographic manufacturing hubs. The early warning data collection will identify opportunities to retain jobs through conversion to worker ownership where the lack of a succession plan puts a company’s future at risk. In addition, CUCI will use the data collected to seek opportunities to incubate new cooperatives where gaps or inconsistencies in the local supply chain leave room for success as a start-up. Whether through conversion or start-up, these union cooperative manufacturing businesses will further CUCI’s mission and strengthen our growing cooperative network.