There’s another co-op in town: Easthampton’s Oxbow Design Build Cooperative converts to worker co-op, joins the Valley Alliance of Worker Co-operatives to build more co-ops
In October, Oxbow Design Build Cooperative successfully converted their partnership to a worker co-operative. The shift in structure will have members democratically own and control the business to sustain their mission for the long-term benefit of their community and customers. Oxbow provides full service design and construction to the western Massachusetts area.
Through the conversion they are retaining nine jobs in their community, earning a projected $1 million in 2019 and have purchased $135,000 in job materials from local businesses in the past 12 months while serving 40 clients.
Co-op Associations support another conversion Support for the conversion of Oxbow Design Build came from the Valley Alliance of Worker Co-operatives (VAWC), a worker co-operative development, education and support co-operative serving western Massachusetts and southern Vermont. “From day one, the Valley Alliance offered clear and thoughtful support, guiding us through the process of our conversion” stated Carl Woodruff, founding Oxbow member. Oxbow joined VAWC as a Member Co-op and are the seventh conversion VAWC has supported in this region.
Easthampton Worker Co-op Joins Rich Regional Movement: Oxbow shows their commitment to building the co-operative economy by becoming a member of the Valley Alliance of Worker Co-operatives (VAWC, valleyworker.coop). VAWC itself is a co-op which carries out educational programming, legislative engagement, peer-to-peer support, and development of co-operative businesses.
As a member, Oxbow joins part of a rich history of worker co-operation in the Pioneer Valley with other co-operative businesses, like Collective Copies, Pedal People and Green Mountain Spinnery as they bring democracy and their values to the workplace. “These worker co-ops are working together to root jobs and democracy in our region by investing in the development of the worker co-op model” says Adam Trott, VAWC Executive Director.
Oxbow uses Truly Co-operative Finance: Oxbow chose Shared Capital Cooperative for their loan to have capital that supports their unique mission and purpose of putting people over profit. They join more than 250 other cooperatives who grow grass roots wealth as members of Shared Capital, a national CDFI loan fund that connects co-ops and capital to build economic democracy.
“Shared Capital was hugely helpful in our final steps of converting to a worker-owned cooperative.” says Woodruff. Oxbow is the latest in Shared Capital’s forty year track record of co-op lending and investing without ever losing an investor dollar. Shared Capital has made 900 loans totaling over $50 million since 1979 and last year made 17 loans totaling $2.1 million; provided 85% of loans to co-ops by and for women, people of color and low-income communities; and created and maintained 367 jobs.
Co-operatives in the United States: Nationally, 40,000 co-operative enterprises throughout the United States who generate over $514 billion and pay $25 billion in wages annually. There are 350 million memberships in cooperatives in the U.S. who receive $79 billion in patronage and dividends from their cooperatives, according to the University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives (https://uwcc.wisc.edu). For more information, see the National Cooperative Business Association CLUSA International (NCBA CLUSA, www.ncbaclusa.coop) is the apex organization for cooperatives in the United States. NCBA CLUSA leads the #COOPSFOR2020 CAMPAIGN advocating for U.S. Presidential candidates to understand the impact of cooperatives and organizes National Co-op Month every October.
We will have more about Oxbow soon. For now see their website: https://oxbowdesignbuild.com.