We're actively looking for:
Interns to assist with planning and communications
Accounting professionals with expertise in cooperatives
Meeting Facilitators with consensus-based
Trainers and Educators with experience in co-ops
If you're interested in getting involved, please contact us (bottom of page).
Shared Services and Staffing Co-op page includes a list of existing support services for local businesses and entrepreneurs.
Learn more about Co-ops and how they strengthen our Local Community and Economy
Learn about Washtenaw County Office of Community & Economic Development Research
News and Events
The Business & Employment Cooperative (BEC) Vision
Big business collaborates all the time, sometimes entering in joint ventures with their direct competitors. Consider the Ford-Mazda joint venture assembly plant in Flat Rock, MI, or the Caterpillar-Rolls-Royce-BP-Shell public/private research institute ETI. Small agricultural businesses have figured out how to use cooperative business models like Organic Valley and Sunkist to pool resources and access markets. Ace Hardware Stores are small and independently owned, but they've survived heavy competition from big box retail because they are a purchasing and branding co-op. Cooperation has the power to reduce transaction costs, create efficiencies, increase access to resources, and strengthen your position in the market.
We tend to think that enterprises come into being because some individual entrepreneur sees an opportunity to make money. The truth is that lots of enterprises come into being because they serve other needs. The rural electric co-ops succeeded in bringing power to rural America, making it possible to feed our great cities when commercial utilities failed to see the investment opportunities. The fact is, if we are to build a new economy based on local ownership, local investment, and a thriving local community, we need to develop cooperative models to capitalize on the opportunities traditional entrepreneurial models miss.
The Shed's mission is to nurture a vibrant local economy by making sure the right tools, skills, and resources are at hand to
-- build a robust, genuinely diversified economy of locally-owned businesses,
-- support rich and varied entrepreneurial paths,
-- share resources, capital and knowledge,
-- work smarter and more joyfully through collaboration,
-- and create meaningful employment for the entire community.
What's The BEC Doing?
We conducted a study of locally owned small business and entrepreneurship assessing the potential for cooperation as a business development and economic
development tool. The study was funded by Washtenaw County County Office of Community & Economic Development and the report has just been published! (go to Study Page)
We are developing cooperative models as business development and incubation tools. We believe that small business joint ventures, sharing facilities, staff, and other resources, can significantly reduce costs, increase competitiveness, and launch more businesses. We are currently developing a plan to pilot the Business & Employment Cooperative model through a Shared Services and Temporary Staffing co-op with drop-in shared office space.
(go to Shared Services & Staffing Co-op)
We are working to raise awareness about co-ops and support the development of
cooperative business models. (go to Cooperatives 101)
We are exploring the potential of Multi-Stakeholder Cooperatives for promoting
worker ownership and generating meaningful employment throughout the
community. (go to Community Resilience)
Jessica Meissner firstname.lastname@example.org, (734) 272-1392