(Photo by Flickr user pwbaker, used under a Creative Commons license)
Worker cooperatives are gaining traction across the world as an effective solution to wage inequality.
The Philadelphia Area Co-Operative Alliance (PACA) is a microcosm of that widespread popularity. Acting as a chamber of commerce of sorts for area co-ops, 2015 was the organization’s first year operating with full-time staff.
PACA just released its annual report for 2015, and besides the fact that it’s super pretty (hubba hubba), it provides some valuable insight into the local co-op community. Here are three takeaways.
- Welcome to the club. Four new area co-ops launched in 2015, and 17 more are reportedly in development. As Philly’s co-op community continues to expand, PACA’s reach will follow suit (more co-ops = more members = more dollars in membership dues).
- Honing its role. Of the 11 events PACA held in 2015, it reported 550 attendees — an average of 50 attendees per event. The organization brought on two new part-time staffers, provided 27 co-ops with technical and business consulting and landed a $25,000 from the USDA for a purchasing co-op feasibility study.
- Signs of growth. PACA is developing the Cooperative Leadership Institute, a training program for leaders working within co-ops set to launch this spring. And though they’re only a slight majority, PACA reports 56 percent of local leaders anticipate “significant” growth in 2016 — a sentiment corroborated by individuals outside the co-op movement looking in.
On the funding front, PACA reported a net income of $21,000. The majority of the organization’s income in 2015 didn’t come from grants or donations, but from “related organizations” like National Cooperative Business Association, which sponsored the first 18 months of executive director staffing for the organization
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“Behind the specific numbers and milestones, you’ll notice a pattern of collaboration,” writes board president Estaban Kelly. “Part of our theory of change is that more can be achieved when people and groups come together around common purpose.”-30-
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