Co-ops to the rescue?

Sep 23, 2009 at 12:00 am

Has your job been shipped of to foreign shores or your workplace been sold to faraway profiteers with a bottom-line-only mentality? The Detroit Community-Based Business Week presents an alternative vision of cooperative economic development as we struggle to recover from recession and battered local industries.

"Detroit is going through a major paradigm shift of what it is and how it survives. The old one isn't working," says Deborah Olson, director of the Center for Community Based Enterprises, Inc., organizer of the week's events. "This is an effort to show people in Detroit at all levels that there is another way that works. Its focus is on more cooperation and more personal responsibility for making the economy and your job happen. It involves taking the strengths of a community and getting people to pull together."

C2BE highlights such local efforts as the Rev. James Holley's Little Rock Baptist Church enterprises, the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network, the Detroit Community Grocery Store Coalition and the United Steelworkers new view of the relationship of unions and worker co-operatives. Representatives of successful enterprises in Cleveland, Baltimore and as far away as Spain will relate their experiences at many of the events.

Wednesday evening's presentation is "You Can Build a Business (and Your Community!)," which examines the role of entrepreneurship in community development in Detroit's Osborn neighborhood and in Mondragon, Spain, at 6 p.m. at the Matrix Center (13560 E. McNichols, Detroit).

Thursday's programs are "The Enterprising CDC: Advancing Your Business Model," "Collective Action for Jobs: Unions and Worker Co-ops" and "How to Live Better and Save Money," taking place at locations in Detroit and Madison Heights. All events are free and open to the public. The full schedule can be found at; call 313-331-7821.