Cooperatives have been around almost forever. But the movement has seen new growth and creativity, especially now, when retail revitalization requires new approaches to traditional business recruitment. As an alternative to recruiting businesses, many communities are actually becoming entrepreneurs and developing businesses themselves. In Clare, MI, for example, a 100-year-old downtown bakery was about to close. But the Clare police department put a stop to it: rather than letting the store become vacant, the entire police department organized themselves (as private citizens) to become an investor group and buy the bakery. They renamed it "Cops & Doughnuts". They now have 18 employees and the bakery has already doubled its retail space in the first twelve months of operation.
The March/April issue of Main Street Now, a publication of the National Trust Main Street Center, explores the wide range of community-owned businesses -- including Cops & Doughnuts.
Community-owned retail businesses typically use one of four models:
- Cooperative. A communally owned and managed business, open to anyone, and operated for the benefit of its members. In a cooperative, each member owns an equal share.
- Community-owned corporation. A traditional for-profit corporation that integrates social enterprise principles. Investors may make different equity investments and own differing numbers of shares.
- Small ownership group. A small, ad hoc investor group that capitalizes and/or operates a business as a partnership or a closely-held corporation.
- Investment fund. A community-based fund that invests debt or equity in local business ventures. Typically, the community investment fund finances a local entrepreneur as the owner/operator of the business.
Joshua Bloom, principal
Community Land Use and Economics Group, LLC
www.cluegroup.com | 202.427.4722