Dear Colleague, 

I'm often asked if any city or region is deploying a full-blown, comprehensive Community Wealth Building agenda to rebuild the basis of their local economy. While there are many exciting elements of such an agenda in cities across the U.S., perhaps the most integrated approach to date is in Preston, England, an older industrial city that has been hard-hit by the national Tory “austerity” program. I first traveled to Preston in November 2012 to share details about our work and the development of the “Cleveland Model,” which channels local anchor institution demand to support the development of a network of linked worker-owned, community-based enterprises. Since that visit, city councillors, local organizations, anchor institutions, and residents have come together in short order to develop the “Preston Model,” a groundbreaking initiative that is making innovative advances around public procurement, localizing pension fund investments, incubating coops at the University of Lancashire, designing a public bank, energy democracy, and municipal enterprise.

National leaders in the UK are taking note, with Preston being featured in recent publications from the Labour Party and in remarks by Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer John McDonnell. Speaking at the Cooperative Party Conference in October, Leader of the Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn also highlighted Preston, noting "councils such as Preston have responded with inspiring innovation. They brought together major local employers in their community, what academics call the anchor institutions, and Preston council worked with them to drive through a local programme of economic transformation." Read more about this pathbreaking community wealth strategy in The Economist, The Sunday Times, and The Daily Mirror. 

On my most recent trip to the UK, I was interviewed by the Health Foundation about our anchor institution work with hospitals and the role they can play in catalyzing community health. We are seeing healthcare systems pioneer this anchor mission approach across the country in the Healthcare Anchor Network, and most recently in Albuquerque, New Mexico—where The Democracy Collaborative has been supporting a local anchor institution collaborative to localize their collective purchasing. The anchors there recently started purchasing locally grown carrots through Agri-Cultura Network, a local farmer cooperative. Read more about the effort here

Executive Vice President and Senior Fellow Marjorie Kelly was recently interviewed in Yes! Magazine about The Democracy Collaborative’s work supporting Fifty by Fifty, an initiative that aims to increase the number of employee-owners in the United States to 50 million by 2050. At the national level, a bipartisan group of senators recently put forward a resolution to designate October “National Employee Ownership Month,” raising awareness about the benefits employee ownership provides and its rich history in the U.S. Read more about the resolution on the Fifty by Fifty blog. On the Next System Project website, Research Intern Johanna Bozuwa has two new posts, one on public power as a vehicle for energy democracy, and the other on alternative approaches to rebuilding Puerto Rico’s electric grid. And TDC fellow Nishani Frazier recently contributed a piece in Truthout on the wave of newly elected Black mayors across the U.S., discussing how they can draw on the radical economic visions of their predecessors in the 1970s to advance inclusive and community-driven urban revitalization.   

Sincerely,
Ted Howard
President and Co-Founder,
The Democracy Collaborative

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Community Wealth Building in the News

  • The Democracy Collaborative’s recent publication Higher Education’s Anchor Mission, authored by Senior Associate Emily Sladek, was recently highlighted in an article from inequality.org discussing how anchor institutions like universities can leverage their economic power to support local communities and help to foster economic development that benefits local residents rather than absentee executives. 
  • Shareable published an interview with Nexus Community Partners about their community wealth building approach, which is grounded in racial justice. Read more about their work to address the racial wealth gap in Minnesota's Twin Cities here
  • A recent article in the Detroit Free Press highlights how transitioning to employee ownership allowed a Michigan business owner to ensure the longevity of his company after retirement. 
  • The Fifty by Fifty blog published an article on the importance of democratizing ownership by Jason Wiener, President of Jason Weiner, P.C., a legal and consulting business for mission-driven companies. Jason shares his experience at Boulder, Colorado-based Namaste Solar and discusses the advantages of alternative ownership structures. 
  • The Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations recently announced the launch of the New Jersey/New York Center for Employee Ownership, which will provide research and technical assistance to business owners.

New from The Democracy Collaborative

New C-W City: Nashville, Tennessee

The forty-third in our C-W City series is Nashville, Tennessee. Nearly one out of every five Nashville residents lives in poverty, a rate well above that of the state as a whole. This disparity is even more pronounced for communities of color. To address these inequities, Nashville-based non-profits, anchor institutions, and the city are advancing several community wealth building strategies. Community development corporations are developing affordable housing and promoting homeownership; local credit unions are providing low-cost financial services; and the city is supporting efforts to to train and connect local residents to the growing construction industry. 

Read the full profile

On Our Calendar

On November 30, Democracy Collaborative fellow Jenny Kassan will be speaking in Washington, DC about her new book, Raise Capital on Your Own Terms: How to Fund Your Business without Selling Your Soul. 
Register Here

Featured Video & Audio 

The Role of Hospitals and Anchor Institutions in Improving Population Health

Democracy Collaborative President & Co-Founder Ted Howard spoke with the UK-based Health Foundation on the work of The Democracy Collaborative around advancing anchor mission strategies in the healthcare sector. 

Energizing Democracy by Democratizing Energy with Denise Fairchild

On Episode 9 of the Next System Project Podcast, Democracy Collaborative Research Intern Johanna Bozuwa and Next System Project Program Associate Adam Simpson interview Denise Fairchild, President & CEO of Emerald Cities Collaborative about energy democracy. 

Recommended Reads

New Book Highlights the Transformative Potential of the ‘Sharing Economy’

“By sharing their labor, knowledge, space, and goods, people are finding that they can overcome scarcity by building and maintaining vital common resources,” begins the introduction to this new book from Shareable. Sharing Cities: Activating the Urban Commons highlights efforts being made by 80 cities in 35 countries to develop solutions to pressing ecological, political, and economic crises by focusing on cultivating shared resources. Discussing innovations in the areas of housing, food, transportation and energy, case studies range from the development of energy cooperatives to open-source technology platforms. Read more here

 

The Relationship between Public Health and Wealth in Detroit, MI

Published by the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society at UC Berkeley, this new report discusses the relationship between health outcomes and wealth disparities in Detroit, Michigan. The authors detail how a lack of access to safe housing and water poses the greatest health threats to residents, and call for solutions outside the realm of clinical care. While noting the necessity of Medicaid expansion, the report calls for investments in the social determinants of health—including affordable housing and expanded social services. Read the full report here

Featured Website

Website tracking Amazon Headquarter Bids

This new website, a project of MuckRock, includes a compilation of Freedom of Information Act requests (FOIAs) filed with local governments that bid to host Amazon’s second headquarters in order to understand what cities are offering in the way of tax credits and other financial incentives. The website includes a map that links to the status of the FOIAs and the bids once provided, as well as resources for residents interested in filing their own requests and articles discussing the implications of cities’ offers.  

 

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