CUCI’s mission is to create a collaborative network of worker-owned businesses that sustain families and build communities. In order to achieve this mission, CUCI has been doing new co-op development and education from its inception, however, never in a scalable format. Over the years, we have spent countless hours mentoring individual co-op entrepreneurs and developing our educational resources. Since 2011, we have had over 500 individuals reach out to us, inquiring how to launch worker cooperatives. Currently, we have 20 groups that are on a waiting list for our assistance in co-op development. We regularly receive visitors from around the country wanting to replicate the model. We do not have the capacity to work with each of the groups individually yet we know the collective financial impact these co-ops could offer their communities.
In 2015, CUCI completed a strategic planning process that included the creation of an education arm, called the Co-op U, in order to increase CUCI’s impact by more efficiently meeting the demand for union co-op education. By creating an education arm, groups will be able to attend a 12-week course 2-3 times per year. We will help more potential co-ops go through the feasibility, business planning, and accessing capital phases, getting more worker-owned businesses off the ground in Cincinnati. Additionally, Co-op U will help us better meet the demand from around the country by providing programming such as multi-day boot-camps, seminars, retreats etc. to teach groups from other cities the best practices regarding cooperative business development.
Excitingly, the Greater Cincinnati Foundation has provided significant support to bring Isabel Uribe, a renowned Mondragon cooperative development specialist, to Cincinnati to help us launch CUCI’s Co-op U training institute that will address this backlog in Q1 of 2018.
We are also looking to scale up our ability to save family sustaining jobs by converting existing businesses to co-ops. Did you know that in the manufacturing sector alone there are more than 700 companies in Cincinnati with owners ready to retire? Historically 80% of these companies will close their doors. Think of these jobs, these families. Our co-op model can save these jobs, and sustain these families by helping the owners sell the companies to the employees. We’re working with 2 of these companies right now.
Read more about this work at: https://www.cincinnatiunioncoop.org/succession-planning/