• A cooperative is an enterprise with economic, social, or cultural  goals that is owned and democratically governed by its members.

Developed over 100 years as member and worker owned businesses responded to economic challenges and opportunities, these  principles are the foundation that all co-ops are built on.

  1. Voluntary and Open Membership
  2. Democratic Member Control
  3. Members’ Economic Participation
  4. Autonomy and Independence
  5. Education, Training and Information
  6. Cooperation among Cooperatives
  7. Concern for Community

    1. Consumer – groups band together and save money by buying together and even having their own store. Examples of this are the East End Food Co-op, the Allegheny County Solar Cooperative, and the REI outdoor recreation equipment and apparel store. More of what you want at a better price!
    2. Producer – makers or processors of goods organize to take advantage of an economy of scale by sharing processing, production, distribution, and/or marketing facilities and channels. Examples are the Land-o-Lakes and  Organic Valley dairies, the East Liberty Farmers Market Cooperative, and, a long time ago, the Pittsburgh Manufacturers Association. This lowers the cost of doing business and makes a business easier to find!
    3. Purchasing – here, too, people or companies that want to buy the same things for their separate businesses take advantage of an economy of scale by making joint purchases for their supplies. Examples are ACE Hardware, purchasing among Best Western hotels, and the US Communities Purchasing Alliance, which Pittsburgh and many other municipalities use for joint purchasing. Economy of scale means better pricing!
    4. Multi-stakeholder –these combine different forms of cooperatives when they operate different businesses within their overall entity. An excellent example of this is the Mondragón Cooperative in Spain, which encompasses manufacturing, research, health care, banking, and other industries. A local example is Work Hard Pittsburgh, which is a producer cooperative in digital media, a real estate investment cooperative, and a member-owned holding company for other businesses. Co-op goodness coming at you in more ways than one!
    5. Housing – the goals of housing cooperatives is to make decent housing permanently affordable, to ensure democratic member participation, provide a means of wealth building for residents, and be active participants in making their immediate communities better. There many right here in Pittsburgh: the Belmar Gardens in Lincoln-Lemington-Belmar, the Kingston Coop in Bellvue, Chatham Village on Mount Washington, North Braddock Heights Housing Association, and University Square Apartments Fifth and Craig in Oakland. Quality AND affordable housing!
    6. Investment – members invest in, own, and operate assets or businesses, depending on their goals and interests. Examples are the Northeast Investment Cooperative in Minneapolis, the Northwest PA Investment Cooperative in Meadville (both in real estate), and the Shared Capital Cooperative that invests in all kinds of cooperative businesses. From many individuals comes a greater impact!
    7. Worker – When workers own and govern the business, it’s a worker cooperative. Examples are New Era Windows, Arizmendi Bakeries, Isthmus Engineering, Dojo4 design studio, and the Big Idea Bookstore in Bloomfield. Own the change and share the wealth!

    1. Building wealth for the owners – because YOU will be the owner!
    2. More say about business affairs – because YOU are running the business with your fellow owners!
    3. Deciding together efficiently – because you’re sharing responsibility and burdens.
    4. Increased community prosperity – healthy and prosperous neighbors make YOU more prosperous.
    5. 24/7/365 Democracy – if it’s efficient and more fair, WHY NOT?

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