Supporters see worker co-ops as way to spread the wealth


Founding members of Happy Earth purchased the cleaning business at the beginning of this year and transformed it into a worker-owned cooperative. [photo: Bre McGee/Happy Earth Cleaning Co-op]
Baby boomers hoping to retire from their small businesses are looking for options to turn over ownership. Rather than selling or dissolving, one alternative is to transition to employee ownership. This approach keeps the business alive, ushers in a new generation of worker-owners, and keeps employees and customers happy. Happy Earth Cleaning Co-op in Minneapolis has done just that.

Minnesota’s 1,000 active cooperatives bring in a staggering $1.62 billion in wages annually, according to a study from the University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives. Nationally, interest in the co-op business model, especially transitions to employee ownership, continues to grow.

In a new piece for Minnesota Public Radio’s business and economy blog, reporter Jon Collins explores the journey Happy Earth Cleaning Co-op has taken to become a worker cooperative.

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