Richmond’s unemployed are languishing. Unemployment seems to refuse to go away, leave residents struggling to pull themselves out of poverty. But Richmond’s mayor, after a visit to Spain, is getting behind the idea of increasing buy-in and ownership in success by promoting cooperatives. Employee-owned businesses help provide individuals with the incentive to work hard, and have given them a taste of the rewards that come from their own work.

In her trip to Spain, Mayor Gayle McLaughlin saw the power of co-operatives, as one town she visited had an economy dominated by a web of cooperatives. Together their 82,000 employees represented the seventh-largest business in the country. And it’s a model she brought home with her.

Businesses from street vendors to green energy companies are not only training new employees, they’re looking to bring them in as partners in profits. And the hope is that it can help bring more Richmond residents out of poverty.

From the Los Angeles Times:

Where a hot dog stand now is the main lunchtime option for city workers in this distressed Bay Area town, soon they’ll be able to choose from steel-cut oatmeal, goat cheese empanadas and white bean and kale stew, prepared in a mobile cafe. Its owners will share in the decision-making — and any profits.
Richmond Solar has trained needy residents to work as green-energy installers and now aims to transform some into bosses by forming a worker-owned cooperative.
The city’s first bicycle shop has opened with similar dreams: Young men who have volunteered to learn the repair trade soon may be elevated to co-owners.

Read the full article here.