Ownership Appalachia, LLC, is a worker-owned cooperative that fosters employee ownership and the development of cooperative enterprise in Southern Appalachia. We plan a broad approach. One focus is on incubating cooperatives in communities without access to traditional capital or employment for which we seek donor funding. We will also offer consulting and technical support for startup worker cooperatives and for worker-led conversions of existing businesses to cooperatives.
Our organization grew out of the work of the Center for Participatory Change (CPC), a social justice nonprofit in Western North Carolina. CPC adopted the creation of worker cooperatives as strategy for improving family income in economically marginalized communities in the region. While CPC’s efforts have produced successful cooperatives, the founders of Ownership Appalachia determined that there was a greater need in the region for cooperative enterprise and a need for technical and business support that CPC was not able to provide.
The principals of Ownership Appalachia have spent the last year studying current methods of cooperative development, governance and management. Rather than adopting any specific development model, our strategy focuses on employing the best solution for the need at hand. We have developed a collegial network of cooperative developers and cooperative worker-owners from around the country. We have built experience working with four cooperatives in our region, three in rural communities, three still in business. We seek RCDG funds to enable us to launch a broad and effective effort to create a robust cooperative economy in the Southern Appalachian mountains.