We regularly add information on cooperatives. Use these links to go to these sections:

What is a Cooperative (or “Co-op”)?    Videos     How-To Info    

Cooperatives in Pittsburgh History


Cooperatives are involved in nearly every business and industrial sector, including the arts, bakeries and banking, car repair and construction, design and digital media, even farming and food production. There’s manufacturing, restaurants, real estate, taxis, and, of course, zymurgy (brewing)!

Get the “10 Reasons Co-ops Rock!” poster.

Convert!  Almost 100,000 closely-held businesses will be changing hands in the next 10 years due to baby boomer retirements. Is yours one of them? Watch this video to learn more about your options. It’s from a group that works in New England, but it presents the ideas well. Then you can get in touch with us to discuss further.

Contact us to request a meeting if you’re considering employee ownership.

For Profit Cooperatives:  How Do They Work?

Thanks to the Office of the Mayor, Neighborhood Empowerment, and Small Business Development Manager for co-sponsoring!

What do you get when you cross a worker cooperative with a nonprofit organization?


MORE  Cooperative Development Resources

How-To Info

Trying to figure out where to start? You may be familiar with the business model canvas. Here’s one adapted for cooperatives. Put your ideas all down on one sheet first.

Cooperatives operate in every business sector, from agriculture to zymurgy! DIG RIGHT IN.

This is an all-in-one guide to starting or converting to a cooperative business. Or contact us about our technical assistance for new and converted cooperatives.

Build a business plan at your own pace at the Federal Small Business Administration

Why co-ops are a solution for economic justice. Are bosses all-day dictators? Really?!   When you think about it, there’s something to that. An article on the authoritarian character of conventional business and its impact on people, communities, and democracy. American civic culture had many  proponents of economic democracy and justice among the founders.

We are a part of the region’s cooperative economics scene at Cooperate PGH. Their site is an important resource for cooperation and collaboration among cooperative businesses. Check out their directory …  and a page for  learning resources…

The PCOC is a member of the New Economy Coalition. There are many learning resources and opportunities to meet other people in the cooperative economy here.

New! the Internet of Ownership, a resource for cooperatives  in light of the impact of online commerce and “big tech”.

Learn about cooperative business by playing “Co-opoly”!   It’s a board game designed similarly to Monopoly but you and your fellow players are members of a cooperative business. It shows you through experience how co-ops work, and and entertains players along the way, too. Let us know if you would like us to organize a game session with your friends or group. Come to the next game night / networking event!

HERE’S THAT PAGE for cooperative development resources.


Income inequality is a nagging problem. Baby Boomers will be retiring in increasing numbers in the next two decades, and are starting already. Many of these retirees will be trying to figure out what to do with their business, and would like to leave a positive legacy in the business world. Is employee ownership the right succession strategy that benefits workers and better creates wealth for them? Would a conversion to a cooperative make sense? The  Century Foundation researches complex issues in the economy. This is a pretty good piece on the issues and challenges of this opportunity.

What if Uber, Task Rabbit, and Amazon were member-owned and member-governed? There are some in the works! Introducing “platform” cooperativism.  Here is the platform co-op ecosystem so far.

Are “jobs” and top-down “entrepreneurship” as we have come to know them natural? That is, is it how we as people have adapted to best use our abilities and social skills? We are wired to collaborate in more level organizations. We are also born into a life that is naturally multi-disciplinary. Sure, it can’t be always 100% horizontal organization, but… that’s something to think about... MORE….



“UNSTOPPABLE“, A film about the cooperative business movement in Philadelphia. Produced by the Philadelphia Area Cooperative Alliance.


“WE THE OWNERS” is about worker ownership, how it’s done, its benefits, and captures stories from the founders and employees from New Belgium Brewing, Namasté Solar, and DPR Construction, sharing the worker’s perspectives on shared ownership structures, highly empowering corporate cultures, linked reward and risk incentives, and human-capital innovation models. The film follows as decisions are made on founding the company, expansion, succession, recruitment, and layoffs.


Green Taxi Co-op,  new Denver taxi company brings a viable service and a defiant stand to the market bullies. In the bitter feud between tech firms and the taxi industry, drivers fight back with a killer app of their own: cooperative ownership.

Own the Change“, an overview of cooperatives as a solution that offers inclusive and equitable economic development.


Cooperatives are a significant part of African American culture past and present. Here is Dr. Jessica Gordon Nembhard, author of Collective Courage, in a lively and insightful discussion on the history and future of cooperatives in African American culture and economic development.


Shift Change” on worker-owned businesses around the US!

SHIFT CHANGE – 2012 [preview] from the producers Melissa Young and Mark Dworkin.

“Capitalish” a film featuring four worker cooperatives (one of which is a child care coop!), and  was created for the Philadelphia Area Cooperative Alliance by Haverford College Interdisciplinary Documentary Media Fellows (IDMF) Anna Bullard, Nick Gandolfo-Lucia, Sarah Moses, and David Roza. More…


Equal Exchange – a Worker-Owned Business Bridging Farmers and Producers and Consumers!


Check out the Damayan Cooperative! Why can’t a cooperative be made up of disadvantaged people in trades that would be low-paying in a conventional business model? No reason at all. What a story!


Is Evolution Driven by the Survival of the Most Cooperative?


Go Co-op! The Cooperative Business Model from the National Cooperative Business Association


Have a beer! Maybe own a brewery?



Where would all this go if someone has a good idea, gets together and works it with co-owners and their fellow cooperative members? In the early 1940’s a little crafts cooperative started up in a church basement, and is now a $15 billion, 80,000+ member cooperative of 102 cooperatives in several industries! The Mondragón Cooperatives:

More on the Mondragon Cooperatives…

Pittsburgh’s Cooperative History
What about Pittsburgh’s history with cooperatives? THERE’S A LOT!

The Pittsburgh Manufacturers Association, the Pittsburgh Cooperative Foundry, and the Noble Order of the Knights of Labor, which organized workers’ unions and cooperative businesses comprised of men and women of all races.