Community Wealth Blog

The Small Business Administration (SBA) is moving forward with an interesting pilot program that will attempt to use established non-profit community organizations to help make much-needed loans to communities and enterprises which may have previosuly not enjoyed full access to available funding.  The Intermediary Lending Program, a 2-3 year pilot program, is beginning this year, with 20 local organizations empowered by the SBA to make loans of up to $200,000 to new and existing businesses.

One of the things we are most excited about here at is the way in which individual strategies of community wealth building can reinforce each other when they intersect.  An explicit effort to create this kind of synergy is underway with the effort to start a credit union for members of worker cooperatives.  We asked Mike Leung, one of the bottomliners of the new project, to share an update with us.

The report, How to Liberate America from Wall Street Rule, examines the operation of the traditional banking system in the United States in the wake of the financial crisis that began in 2008, and argues that a reorientation of the financial system towards local communities, local businesses, and local needs—Main Street instead of Wall Street—is increasingly necessary. 

The University of Missouri Extension is offering two intensive five day courses from September 19th through the 23rd at their Community Development Academy, one focusing on “Building Communities from the Grassroots” and the other on “Creating Capacity for Dynamic Communities.”

The Democracy Collaborative is proud to be a contributor to the 2011 Eastern Conference for Workplace Democracy, where representatives of democratic workplaces—worker coopsESOP’s, and more—are convening in Baltimore for three days of conversations (July 8th-10th) on the nuts and bolts of building employee owned enterprises, as well as about the longer term strategies using workplace democracy to build economic justice in our communities.

The Vermont Employee Ownership Center is hosting its annual conference in Burlington, Vermont on June 10th.  The full-day conference is designed for those who want to learn more about how employee ownership can work for their business as well as members of existing employee-owned companies, including both ESOP (employee stock ownership plan) companies and worker cooperatives. Each year the conference draws dozens of representatives from Vermont’s employee-owned companies.

According to standard U.S. corporate law, corporate trustees have a fiduciary obligation to maximize shareholder return.  This has led to many “socially responsible corporations” being acquired by multi-national companies. Famously, a decade ago Ben & Jerry’s was acquired by Unilever.  Other examples abound, as Tina Rosenberg of the New York Times details here.

The National Alliance of Community Economic Development Associations (NACEDA) is a national alliance of state and regional community development associations representing over 4,000 community development corporations and community groups. NACEDA will be hold its fifth annual summit on May 23-25 in Washington DC. Early registration deadline is May 5th.

The Cooperative Development Foundation (CDF), a charitable foundation whose mission is to raise public awareness and stimulate development of sustainable cooperatives, is convening the The First Annual Cooperative Issues Forum to discuss the role of cooperatives in the U.S. economy—today, and in the future.

Earlier this month, the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) recognized seven community leaders and organizations for their outstanding work and extraordinary contributions to their communities. Among the award recipients were two community development financial institutions (CDFIs)Hope Enterprise Corporation—based in Jackson, MS—won the “James Leach” award for the best rural nonprofit of the year, while Boston Community Capital— based in Boston, MA—won the “James Rouse” award for the best urban nonprofit of the year.

The International Co-operative Alliance (ICA), the world’s peak association of cooperatives, representing more than 800 million co-op members worldwide, has issued a call for papers for its 2011 Global Research Conference. Organizers invite researchers from universities, specialists from research centers and practitioners from the wide field of cooperatives and social economy to take part in the conference and submit abstract proposals relevant to conference themes.

Over the last two years, Opportunity Fund, a community development financial institution (CDFI) based in San Jose, California and its partners have planned and convened two conferences in the San Francisco Bay Area to build and expand the field of microfinance in the United States. In response to requests from the U.S. microfinance field to host the conference in different locations around the country, Microfinance USA will convene in New York in 2011 for the first time.