ARE CO-OPS THE WAY?   
  
Gibney, Shannon       
457 words 
1 December 2005 
Black Enterprise 
Volume 36; Issue 5; ISSN: 00064165 
English Copyright (c) 2005 Bell & Howell Information and 
Learning Company. All rights reserved.   
  
AROUND THE NATION  
  
Experts say cooperatives enable black communities to build wealth   
  
Scholars and community activists called for more research on cooperatives 
in response to a Department of Agriculture hearing in September, beseeching 
officials to study urban and worker-owned co-ops among different racial groups. 
Such research could lead to better information on the number, type, and growth 
of black-owned and managed co-ops.   
  
According to the National Black Business Trade Association, African Americans 
spend about 93% of their income outside of their communities. Many say this 
situation could be remedied by creating more black-owned and operated co-ops.   
  
Just how could cooperatives accomplish this? "Co-ops are an economic model 
that includes ownership from more than one person," says Angela Dawson, 
communications director for Northcountry Cooperative Development Fund in 
Minneapolis. "In the capitalistic model, there's one boss. But in the 
cooperative 
model, there are many. Accountability and equity, as well as risk and reward, 
are spread out a lot more.   
  
"The co-op model is so attractive because it's sustainable by the community," 
Dawson continues. "Everyone owns it, and it's perpetual. It doesn't depend on 
just one person and recycles back into the community."   
  
"Cooperatives can enable African Americans to have more control of their 
income, 
wealth creation, and work situation-particularly if it's a worker-owned co-op," 
says Jessica Gordon Nembhard, a member of the BLACK ENTERPRISE Board of 
Economists 
and professor of African American Studies at the University of Maryland, 
College 
Park. "Coops can also give workers more control over their finances and 
industrial labor."   
  
There are many different kinds of co-ops, including consumer-owned and 
workerowned. 
Co-ops also exist in a variety of industries, including food, housing, 
healthcare, credit, farming, utilities, telecommunications, and transportation. 
  
  
The most successful group of black co-ops is the Federation of Southern 
Cooperatives/ Land Assistance Fund, which is a "network of rural cooperatives, 
credit unions, and state associations of cooperatives and cooperative 
development centers in the southern United States," says Nembhard. Since 1967, 
the federation has helped save black ownership of $87.5 million worth of land, 
mobilized $50 million in resources for support of member credit unions and 
co-ops 
(particularly in sustainable agriculture), and assisted more than 700 families 
with 
$26 million worth of affordable housing units.     
  
"Specifically for minority communities and economically disadvantaged 
communities, 
co-ops are a very powerful idea because they allow us to have access," says 
Antonio 
Resell, an urban planner at Community Design Group in Minnesota. "Together, we 
can 
do many more things than we would be able to do by ourselves."

 -Shannon Gibney   
  
Copyright Earl G. Graves Publishing Company, Inc. Dec 2005

For more information, Please contact:
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phone:  612.490.5291
Temporary Address:  
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Minneapolis MN  55407
(Until January 2, 2006)



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