From an NCBA and CooperationWorks press release:
Congressman Chaka Fattah (D-PA), Chairman of the Congressional Urban Caucus, will lead a new initiative to support urban cooperative business development throughout the United Sates. Fattah, an eight term Congressman from Philadelphia, will partner with the National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA), a Washington-based federation of cooperatives from all sectors of the economy, and CooperationWorks! (CW), a national trade association of cooperative development centers and individuals. Rep. Fattah, Pennsylvania’s senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, said, “Cooperatives provide an excellent means for economic development and community enrichment.
“This new initiative is catching on in our cities and urban areas. The cooperative movement is a perfect fit with the agenda of the bipartisan Congressional Urban Caucus and I am pleased to provide this effort with a strong voice in Congress,” Fattah said. “These cooperatives will create jobs and wealth by helping new local businesses that are owned and controlled by their members.” Cindy Bass, Senior Policy Advisor for Congressman Fattah, said, “Our office has a record of working with the successful and well-established cooperatives in Northwest Philadelphia such as Weavers Way food coop. I will be assisting the Congressman as we help to advance urban cooperatives and boost our national economy.”
The new initiative as outlined by representatives of NCBA and CW will include seeking authorization of funds for technical assistance for urban cooperatives across the United States, an effort to change Small Business Association policies which currently prohibit participation by cooperatives in federal small business loan guarantee programs, financial assistance for cooperative business start-ups, and pilot programs in Philadelphia and other cities.
Lisa Stolarski, CW Urban Circle Chair, said, “A successful authorization of an urban cooperative development program could pass Congress in 2011 and could potentially be appropriated as early as 2012, the year declared by the United Nations as the International Year of Cooperatives.”
Adam Schwartz, NCBA Vice President of Public Affairs and Member Services, said, “The NCBA looks forward to working with Congressman Fattah and the co-op community in developing an urban cooperative development program.”
According to a recent study, there are over 29,000 co-ops in the US employing over 2 million workers, paying $75 billion in wages, with $650 billion in sales, and $3 trillion in assets.
Modern day cooperative businesses trace their origin back to 1844 in Rochdale, England, when a group of weavers and other skilled workers established a member-owned and member-controlled retail food store. Their “Rochdale Principles,” which included the distribution of surplus on the basis of patronage and cooperative governance on the basis of one member, one vote, have been replicated widely.
Over the years, cooperatively structured businesses of various types have been established in many countries around the world from small consumer retail food co-ops and worker-owned entrepreneurial ventures to large agricultural purchasing and marketing co-ops; from housing co-ops to credit unions.
CooperationWorks! Contact: Lisa Stolarski, Urban Circle Chair, Pittsburgh PA. Ph: 412.969.7896,