Register today at: http://www.cityofmadison.com/business/coopconference/
Background: Last spring, Mayor Soglin suggested the idea of putting on an economic development conference. The purpose would be to grow co-op jobs in Madison. The reason for the focus on co-op employment? Co-ops mean sustainable, local, green jobs. Co-ops help keep money in the local economy, probably won't outsource jobs, and probably won't move out of Madison. They are rooted in the community. Co-ops tend to function in the interests of their workers, consumers and producers (i. e. the citizens of Madison). Co-ops are dedicated to helping each other out (our sixth principle); thus the more co-ops there are, the better off are their collective workers, consumers and producers (i.e. the citizens of Madison). In short: co-ops are good for the city.
After the Mayor made his suggestion last spring, a core conference organizing group was formed. The group is made up of the city government, and the city's co-ops, credit unions, and the UW Center for Co-ops. Aside from Soglin's advocacy, the city itself has ponied up a grant for $10,500—nearly half the cost of the conference. The co-op sector has committed to raising the rest. Here's a little preview of what we have named the “Madison Co-operative Business Conference,” and subtitled "Growing Jobs through Co-op Ownership."
The conference will be June 7, with a pre-conference on co-op conversions on June 6. It will be held at the Pyle Center. Day one will be aimed at business owners thinking of retiring and selling their businesses. We want to encourage them to sell to co-ops to their workers. This is an exciting way to build the co-op economy for two reasons. First, significant tax breaks are available to employers who sell to worker co-ops. Second, “conversion” to workers co-ops is a way to grow co-ops without having to start a new business. Topics that will be covered the second day include: Madison's Co-op Economy: Where we are, what we are, and how much we are; Co-ops 101, Financing, Resources; Lunch; Co-ops in the food system; Co-ops in health care; What cities and governments can do to develop co-op jobs. The conference will conclude with a facilitated discussion among Madison's co-operators, would-be co-operators, and co-op advocates about how to work together (co-operatively) to grow jobs together.