Muriel Bowser, mayor of the District of Columbia, has proclaimed October 2017 Co-op Month in the nation’s capital as part of the city’s efforts to bolster its worker cooperative community.
The emphasis on worker co-ops is part of a wider economic strategy in Washington, D.C. to provide support, training and technical assistance to all small and local businesses, put forth by the Department of Small & Local Business Development in March, said Katherine Mereand, Program Manager of Tech & Innovation for the department.
Since December 2016, the department has led an open community stakeholder group meeting every month to support the development of a community of learning and practice around cooperatives, Mereand added.
According to the proclamation, the District is home to 272 cooperatives meeting a wide range of needs including access to healthy food, quality jobs, financial and utility services, health care and affordable housing. The proclamation also notes that DC’s government recognizes co-ops in its laws and statues as “member-owned enterprises” that afford people “a real stake in their communities and economic destiny.”
Rodney North, with the newly formed DC Cooperative Stakeholders Group, estimates there are at least 230 co-ops in the District, with strong showings in the housing, credit union and hardware sectors.
With a focus on co-op opportunities within communities that have traditionally been economically or politically marginalized, the DC Cooperative Stakeholders Group is working to build a cooperative network in the nation’s capital. A volunteer group of citizens, community leaders, business people, nonprofits and local government officials, the group came together in response to an invitation by the Office of Innovation & Equitable Development, part of the DC government’s Department of Small & Local Business Development.
Learn more about the co-ops in Washington, D.C. here.
*While Takoma Park Silver Spring Food Co-op is among three food co-ops serving the District, it is incorporated in the state of Maryland. Takoma Park is a city in Maryland’s Montgomery County, but a suburb of Washington, D.C. and part of the Washington metropolitan area.