East Bay Express – Berkeley Pledges Support and Funding for Worker Co-ops

From the East Bay Express:

Last week, the Cheeseboard’s longtime home committed to a new strategy for fighting economic inequality and building the local economy: city support for worker cooperatives. The Berkeley City Council voted unanimously on Fe.26 to include co-ops in the city’s small-business revolving loan fund; give co-ops, along with women- and minority-owned businesses, preference for city contracts; and provide ongoing technical assistance to help existing small businesses convert to worker cooperatives. “This is such a Berkeley thing,” Mayor Jesse Arreguin said at the meeting. “We have a long history of encouraging co-ops — especially now that wealth is being concentrated at the very top.” He predicted that Berkeley’s support for co-ops will be “a model for the rest of the Bay Area and the country.” It’s been three years since the council passed a resolution by then-Councilmember Arreguin directing city staff to develop support for worker cooperatives. After many months the project was assigned to the Office of Economic Development, then faced further delays because of staffing turnover and shortages. Other delays were more existential. After all, noted office Director Director Jordan Klein, “Municipal support for worker co-ops is still a relatively new thing.”

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