Brockton is not the only city building cooperative ecosytems, and the GBCC has followed the work of successful cooperative movements in cities around the country. One successful movement is in another Massachusetts city, Springfield, where the Wellspring Cooperative movement includes an impressive five cooperative businesses. In San Francisco The Arizmendi Association of Cooperatives has developed multiple co-ops including six bakery co-ops as well as a landscaping and construction co-op. The GBCC has also been in touch with the Cooperation Jackson movement in Mississippi which is championing democratically self-managed enterprises.
This month BIC and the GBCC have taken a significant step toward cooperative ecosystem development. United with other stakeholders in Brockton, BIC applied for, and received, a Community Empowerment and Reinvestment Grant awarded by Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The grant provides $318,000 to contribute to the startup of two cooperative enterprises; an affordable housing cooperative is being developed as well as a worker-owned construction cooperative. In addition, funds will support the development of a training course about cooperatives.
BIC is partnering with the Boston Center for Community Ownership for cooperative business training and technical assistance with co-op development. Also involved is People Affecting Community Change (PACC) – a training and service organization led by and serving those affected by incarceration. A curriculum will be created for PACC to introduce cooperative business principles.
The BIC cooperative initiative was able to bring together nonprofit, government, lending, training, and policy stakeholders. The project is driven by local Brockton community leaders following years of organizing to build relationships and networks. “I am very excited to be working with Brockton Interfaith Community on a truly transformational project that will bring a whole new level of ownership to our City and our community,” said Rob May, Brockton’s Director of Planning and Economic Development.
BIC sees co-ops as an economic solution to address pressing economic issues in Brockton including housing insecurity, a lack of jobs with dignity, and numerous buildings in need of replacement or repair. BIC looks to demonstrate the potential of cooperative enterprises to empower marginalized people and democratize Brockton’s economy.