LINK to the SESSION 4 VIDEO  of 26 January 2018:  “For Profit Cooperatives: How Do They Work?



JOIN US AT OUR SESSION May 16 at 1 PM for Cooperatives: Traditionally Cutting Edge Business for More Resilient Communities”

Since 1819, cooperatives have been the vehicle for traditional business sectors, and now, digital services in Pittsburgh and western PA. Often responding to economic distress, cooperatives have provided a means to equitable livelihoods and communities despite an economy beset by an extractive approach that aggravates income and wealth inequality and gentrification while undermining democratic values. Cooperatives also present a promising opportunity for under-represented people, facilitating diverse participation in business, and increasing worker control over compensation and working conditions. Five members of various cooperatives in the Pittsburgh area will tell their story of why they “went co-op”, how it’s working for them (success and challenges), and their plans to make their cooperatives more successful and grow opportunities for more people. Special attention will be given to highlight advantages, challenges, and how existing organizations can convert to cooperative models.

Business and economic development practitioners will have a new tool to improve the prospects of workers stuck in part-time employment, in industries with typically poor working conditions. We’ll show how cooperatives are creating more personal and community wealth for people with these challenges.

Session presenters:

Ron Gaydos, Pittsburgh Chamber of Cooperatives
Raqueeb Bey, Black Urban Gardeners and Farmers of Pittsburgh Cooperative *
Josh Lucas, Work Hard Pittsburgh Cooperative *
Ben Ledewitz, Fourth River Workers Guild *
Lakeisha Wolf, Ujamaa Collective
Trevor Young-Hyman, Katz School of Business, University of Pittsburgh

   * Pittsburgh Chamber of Cooperatives member organization


The Pittsburgh Chamber of Cooperatives is the hands-on resource for  worker-owned and member-owned businesses in southwestern Pennsylvania.

Our mission is to develop and implement a cooperative business infrastructure – an ecosystem for worker-owned and member-owned businesses to thrive – in the Pittsburgh area. We work with Pittsburgh’s cooperatives, inclusive economic development initiatives, and individuals.

The PCOC raises awareness of cooperative business culture, facilitates the formation of new cooperatives, assists in the conversion of existing businesses to cooperatives, provides guidance on cooperative governance, builds community loyalty to cooperatives, and brings visibility to the triple bottom line advantage of cooperative businesses in the region.


Cooperatives are for people with any level of background, skill set, or financial means. Combining forces to form worker-owned businesses or member-owned purchasing cooperatives is a way for anyone to increase visibility and scale – and therefore opportunity – to better compete for business in today’s climate and especially in many of the new development initiatives in the region’s communities.

Our services are:

  • informational networking events,
  • hands-on workshops and startup assistance,
  • advocacy to remove barriers to cooperative opportunity, and
  • business coaching tailored to worker-owned cooperative businesses.

We’re gearing up to provide this entire menu!

The benefits of cooperatives are many. Here are some: 1) cooperatives are owned by members, so they build wealth 2) they’re locally focused, so cooperatives make communities more resilient 3) cooperatives work on the triple bottom line principle: for people, planet, and profit 4) members of cooperatives share the burden in hard times and the benefits in good times 5) and cooperatives are run democratically. Now that’s American business!


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