"In nearby Richmond, a city of 120,000 residents with a 17 percent unemployment rate that is nearly twice the national average, city officials are trying different things. The city has embarked on a program to help promote the growth of co-op businesses to create job opportunities and provide avenues to create stable incomes for unskilled and hard-core unemployed residents. The program started last year after Green Mayor Gayle McLaughlin visited the Mondragon Corp., a federation of worker cooperatives in the Basque region of Spain. She was part of a national delegation."
"There are many different kinds of co-ops, and we're focusing on worker co-ops where people own their own jobs and manage themselves," said Terry Baird, who was hired by Richmond as a consultant. Baird, a Richmond resident, is a co-founder of Arizmendi Cooperative Inc., and a co-op owner of the Arizmendi Bakery on Lakeshore Avenue in Oakland.
And so far, Richmond is not lacking for ideas, Baird said. Miguel Espino, who established the East Bay Agricultural Project, wants to establish aquaponics farms in Richmond that grow fish and vegetables.
Baird has consulted with a budding North Richmond health food co-op, an electric bicycle builder and a group that wants to sell hydroponically grown organic foods. Most recently, Baird advised the Latina Center, a women's group of Central and South American immigrants who dream of one day running a bakery similar to Arizmendi.
Baird, a 30-year veteran in co-op enterprises, has advised the group to start small and think big. The costs of starting up most of these ventures are low. Instead of a bakery operation, Baird recommended creating a "pop-up" restaurant, in which an existing, often struggling, restaurant allows other chefs to use existing facilities to launch a new business. The model has been used in San Francisco and Berkeley, a leader in the co-op businesses and home to some of the most well-established co-op-owned businesses in the nation."
Image from Richmond Confidential: "Mayor McLaughlin lead a discussion Tuesday night at the Richmond Public Library, fielding questions and listening to ideas. Terry Baird of the Arizmendi Bakery Cooperative (back right) explains why the company isn't currently interested in bringing a bakery to Richmond."