Community wealth building a new paradigm of sustainable economic development
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Community Wealth Building: A New Paradigm of Sustainable Economic Development. St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank – Exploring Innovation Week Memphis, TN – May 13, 2013 Ted Howard The Democracy Collaborative. Wealth Inequality in the United States .

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Community Wealth Building:A New Paradigm of Sustainable Economic Development

St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank – Exploring Innovation Week

Memphis, TN – May 13, 2013

Ted Howard

The Democracy Collaborative

Wealth Inequality in the United States

Sources—Edward N. Wolff, Recent Trends in Household Wealth in the United States, Levy Economics Institute, March 2010; Politifact, “Michael Moore Says 400 Americans Have More Wealth than Half of All Americans Combined,”

The Prevailing Economic Development Paradigm

  • Some of its characteristics and elements include:

  • Subsidies and tax breaks to entice corporations to relocate ($80B)

  • Workforce training not linked to actual jobs ($37B)

  • Regional trickle down strategies that do not reach low- and moderate-income neighborhoods

  • Growth & GDP – toward what end?

  • Low-wage (non-living wage) job creation, often without benefits

  • Exclusion of ex-offenders and others with barriers to employment

  • Gentrification and dispersal of traditional residents

  • “Throwaway cities” and their infrastructure

  • Privatization of publicly owned goods

What is the Community Wealth Building Paradigm?

A New Approach to Economic Development that:

•emphasizes democratization of wealth

•focuses on place & local economy

•promotes broader ownership of capital

•anchors jobs locally

•stops the leakage of dollars from communities

•supports individual & family wealth building

•reinforces stewardship over capital

•generates revenues to finance public services

•leverages anchor institutions for local benefit

•contributes to local economic stability

•total cost accounting of economic decisions

Women’sAction toGainEconomicSecurity(CA)

  • Home cleaning industry

    notoriously pays low wages &

    has bad working conditions

  • Coop founded in 1995

  • Mostly Latina immigrants who

    own the business

  • 5 coops with 100 members

  • Wages of $15/hour plus health

  • Environmentally friendly

    cleaning techniques

New Community Corporation of Newark (NJ)

  • Founded in 1968 by Monsignor William Linder

  • Employs 1,300 residents of local neighborhoods

  • Community-based business ownership

  • Developed shopping center that houses community-owned business and services

  • Assets exceed $500 million

  • Income recycled to support day-care and after school programs, health services, Youth Automotive Training Center

Washington Electric Coop (VT)

  • Serves 10,000 customers

    in 41 towns in Vermont

  • Community owns the shares

  • In 2002, 1/3rd of its

    power came from nuclear

  • Today: 2/3rds of power

    is generated from landfill


  • 100% from renewable energy


The New WilliamstownSolar Farm:

A Sizable Presence on WEC’s

Power Lines

Tom Garden

Market Creek Plaza(CA)

  • Community-designed mixed-use

    development; $65 million commercial

    and cultural complex in low-income


  • Community ownership: 423 residents

    own shares worth $500,000; 20% of

    equity; will increase to 50% equity

  • Neighborhood foundation owns

    20%; will increase to 50%

  • Former brownfield site; adjacent

    to trolley line; TOD

Namaste Solar (CO)

  • 103 “team” members; one-half are owners

  • 4 to 1 maximum salary ratio

  • One owner, one vote

  • #1 market share in CO

  • 2,000+ systems installed

  • $15 million in revenue

Pioneer Human Services - Seattle (WA)

  • Nonprofit founded in 1962 to serve clients – ex-offenders and drug abusers

  • Initially nearly 100% grant funded

  • Today employs 700 people, most from their client base, in network of their own for-profit businesses (hotel, catering, manufacturing)

  • $55 million revenue; almost no grant funding

  • Anchored in the community

Anchor capital so it doesn’t get up and leave

Promote asset accumulation

Stop $$ from leaking out of NE Ohio

Stabilize and revitalize neighborhoods

Develop a model for national impact



100+ networked cooperatives

For more information:

[email protected]

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