Consider an economy facing significant economic challenges. The economy is relatively small, geographically isolated, and faces challenging weather that inhibits the growing season, year-round tourism, and in-migration. The population is small, relatively dispersed, and homogenous. In many respects, this economy is in deep trouble, even as a few southern and coastal population centers are faring relatively well.

The above rings true for Maine, and the state has a wide spectrum of possible paths that its economy could follow.

Where co-op ecosystems have developed, there have been impressive results: stronger economies and communities, higher wages, more innovation and entrepreneurship, and less inequality. And the more developed the ecosystem, the more impressive the results.

Without question, co-op and employee ownership deliver material benefits to and improve the economic health of workers, families, and communities. However, co-ops are uniquely capable of providing greater benefits to us as human beings. Hope, control over one’s future, influence in one’s community, self-reliance and interdependence – these things are in short supply these days in Maine (and around the nation). Building a cooperative economy could make a big difference.

Read more…