One of the most pressing issues in the continuing economic downturn is the absence of credit and capital for the nation’s bloodline: Small Business. To resolve the problem, business owners are going local and turning to community resources. But how does community wealth building really work? Jeffrey Hollender, founder of American Sustainable Business Council and former CEO of Seventh Generation shares some practical ideas.
Recreating Our Economy: The Untapped Power of Community Wealth Building
Posted by Jeffrey Hollender on Jeffrey Hollender.com
We have before us an incredible opportunity to transform our economy. The disastrous turn our fiscal health took in 2008 has forced us to really think about the way our country creates and distributes wealth. One positive outcome of the recession is a zeal and enthusiasm around the idea of community wealth building, a sustainable approach to building and developing successful, sustainable and vibrant local economies.
Community wealth building is premised on the idea of broadly-shared ownership that is locally-rooted and directed toward the common good. Ownership can take place in many different forms, chief among them:
- Employee stock ownership plan (ESOPs) companies
- Municipal enterprises;
- Non-profit social enterprises;
- Community development corporations; and
- Community development financial institutions.
The Democracy Collaborative at the University of Maryland, is pioneering the vision and strategy to address the chronic problems our economy faces, from high unemployment, to industrial cities that have been left to decay, to dangerously high levels of wealth inequality and the destruction of our environment. Led by Gar Alperovitz, the Democracy Collaborative is creating new concepts for how to solve these seemingly intractable problems.
Much of the excellent work done by the Collaborative in now available in “Growing a Green Economy for All,” by Deborah B. Warren and Steve Dubb. The study analyzed the potential of various ownership mechanisms to build community wealth vis-a-vis six key sectors in the green economy:
- Renewable energy;
- Green building;
- Clean transportation;
- Waste management;
- Land use; and
- Green financing.
The Collaborative’s findings are heartening and energizing. Though there are significant challenges ahead (lack of access to appropriate financing; regulatory barriers to community innovation; high front-end costs; unstable markets; insufficient infrastructure; and hesitant philanthropy), all signs point to positive opportunities available from community wealth building ventures.
Read More (reprinted with permission from Jeffrey Hollender.com)