Policy Pulse March 2023 – Worker Owner State Advocacy Fellows

In this video, the USFWC’s 2022-2023 Worker Owner State Advocacy Fellows share on their research and projects for the year, in which worker-owners from across the U.S. surveyed fellow cooperators about challenges and needs of worker co-ops to share with their state legislators.

We also heard from USFWC Policy Director Mo Manklang and Government Relations Manager Aaliyah Nedd of the National Cooperative Business Association on recent policy wins and upcoming opportunities to support. Learn more about our Policy & Advocacy for worker co-op businesses here.


🌲 More from the US Federation of Worker Co-ops 🌲


Can you take one minute to sign this letter asking the State of California to invest in Employee Ownership?

Can you take one minute to sign this letter asking the State of California to invest in employee ownership?

Please sign the letter by Thursday, March 30th!

Last year, Governor Newsom signed into law Senate Bill 1407, the California Employee Ownership Act, which creates the Employee Ownership Hub within the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz). The Hub is designed to establish the infrastructure necessary to increase employee ownership throughout California. We are asking the State of California to invest $5 million to fund the newly-created Hub.

Employee ownership is a well-proven strategy for business resilience, wealth-building and job quality for workers, and strong local economies. With a potential budget shortfall looming, there is no better time for California to invest in worker ownership to preserve small businesses, protect jobs, and save the State money.

Please take a moment by Thursday, March 30th to sign this letter asking the State of California to invest in worker ownership to the benefit of workers, small businesses, and local economies!

We Are Proud to Support America’s SBDC and the 7th Annual #SBDCDay on March 15th

The USFWC is proud to support #SBDCDay and the growing network of Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) who are providing important education and and technical assistance regarding worker cooperatives and Employee Stock Ownership Plans.

In 2018, the Main Street Employee Ownership Act directed the Small Business Development Centers across the country to provide training and education on employee ownership options. The USFWC continues to work with members to increase awareness of worker cooperatives within SBDCs.

“The work of champions such as Frank Cetera of the Onondaga Small Business Development Center in Syracuse, NY and Leyanis Diaz at the Temple SBDC in Philadelphia has helped to worker co-ops stay open, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. They provided crucial information and support in accessing resources in a time of great need for all businesses.” said Mo Manklang, Policy Director at the U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives. “In particular, Frank’s work in leading the charge of SBDC education and peer learning regarding worker ownership is critical to ensuring that our cooperative businesses have access to supports that are offered through SBDCs. The work of these on-the-ground consultants to help small businesses form, grow, and thrive is a hugely untapped resource for business owners across the country. As we fight for cooperatives to have access to the same SBA resources as all other small businesses, it is heartening to know and work with these experts to expand their knowledge of worker co-ops.”

As small business owners navigate an ever-changing landscape, Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) continue to support and elevate their clients through innovative at-cost training programs and free advising strategies. Nearly 1,000 SBDCs can be found across the United States and its territories, serving clients virtually and from their centers in host institutions like universities and chambers – this network can be a vital avenue for growing the worker co-op movement.

According to the most recent Chrisman Survey, which collected data from SBDC clients in 2020-2021, America’s SBDCs provide measurable economic results. Nationwide SBDCs helped generate; 85,094 jobs, $10.1 billion in sales growth; $7.7 billion in capital investments; and started 14,487 new businesses, proving that SBDCs are leaders in job creation and economic development.

“Through adversity, we strengthen and grow, and nothing could be truer for the SBDC network and its thousands of clients this past year,” said Charles “Tee” Rowe, President & CEO of
America’s SBDC. “This SBDC Day, we are celebrating the SBDC network’s reimagined approach to doing business and its direct positive impact on Main Streets all across America.”

  • To learn more about SBDC Day and its SBDC Ambassadors, visit http://www.americassbdc.org/SBDCDay.
  • To join the conversation online, follow the hashtag #SBDCDAY.
  • Find Your Nearest SBDC

Comment on the Tech Hubs and Recompetes programs by 3/16

The USFWC invites its members and community to provide comment on two important funding opportunities through the federal government: The Tech Hubs Program and the Recompetes Pilot Program.


Tech Hubs Program

Last year, cooperatives were named as an important part of the federal government’s Regional Technology and Innovation Hub (Tech Hubs) program, authorized through the Chips and Science Act (P.L. 117-167). The wheels for this program are now in motion, and the Economic Development Administration (EDA) announced a Request for Information to inform the planning and design of the Tech Hubs program.

The Tech Hubs program is an economic development initiative to drive technology- and innovation-centric growth that creates good jobs for American workers. Cooperative development centers and associations, and CDFIs  are named as eligible partners to drive regional strategies to support this growth. The Tech Hubs program is an opportunity to develop and expand cooperatives, leveraging federal dollars specifically for technology and innovation cooperatives. 

Grants or cooperative agreements will be awarded to regional hubs for the implementation of innovation strategies under four different categories: workforce development, business and entrepreneur development, technology development and maturation, and infrastructure-related activities. 

Read more about the Chips and Science Act here


Recompetes program

The Distressed Area Recompete Pilot Program, also authorized through the Chips and Science Act, is an economic development initiative that will provide grant funding to distressed communities across the country to create, and connect workers to, good jobs and support long-term comprehensive economic development by helping to reduce the high, prime-age (25 to 54 years of age) employment gap.

Congress appropriated EDA $200 million for the program, allowing the EDA to target persistently economically distressed areas to support long-term, comprehensive and sustainable economic development and job creation/placement and award grants to support development or implementation of a Recompete Plan.

The EDA is requesting feedback on how to structure a program that most effectively builds capacity, creates jobs and addresses challenges in communities grappling with persistent economic distress and high prime-age unemployment;

  • identifying metrics to assess the success of the Recompete Pilot Program;
  • designing a competitive, inclusive and accessible grant funding selection process; and
  • identifying best practices and evidence-based research that could inform how to most effectively support persistently economically distressed areas.

Here’s how you can get involved:

  • Send a comment letter expressing your support for the cooperative community as a prominent part of the Tech Hubs Strategy. You can either send your own comments or look out for the USFWC’s template letter, which will be shared on Monday 3/13 (this page will be updated). Feedback for this RFI is due by 5 pm ET on March 16 and can be submitted via email to Eric Smith, Director, Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, at techhubs@eda.gov.
  • Send a comment letter expressing your support for the cooperative community as a prominent part of the Recompetes Pilot Program. You can either send your own comments or look out for the USFWC’s template letter, which will be shared on Monday 3/13 (this page will be updated). Responses are due by 5 p.m. Eastern Time on March 27, 2023, submitted via email to Recompete@eda.gov. 
  • Let us know that you submitted a letter for either or both requests. Email us at policy@usworker.coop


Highlights from our Member Councils and Peer Networks – March 2023

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Our Member Councils and Peer Networks are shaping the future of the worker co-op movement in the U.S. through offers and needs markets, collective education & learning and political advocacy for a worker-centered economy.  Here are the highlights for this month from some of our Councils & Networks:

  • Union Co-ops CouncilAt the February meeting, the UCC shared updates, announcements, ideas, and heard a presentation from Sam Marvin and Dennis Olson from the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union on their support for developing unionized worker co-op cannabis dispensaries in Rhode Island.
  • Policy & Advocacy CouncilMarch 1st we hosted our first Policy Pulse of the year where USFWC Worker Owner State Advocacy Fellows shared about the projects they have been working on to visibilize current challenges worker cooperatives are facing and articulate needs from the field to lawmakers in their home states. We were also joined by Aaliyah Nedd, government relations manager at NCBA CLUSA who shared the recent legislative wins, active bills and upcoming opportunities to support federal and state investment in the worker co-op sector; watch the recording here!
  • International CouncilThe IC’s executive committee is planning a series of webinars for cooperators who want to learn more about international movements and organizations. This council will be recruiting members to help guide the direction of this council at the Spring USFWC Member Meeting, May 24th.
  • Racial & Economic Justice Council – Later this year, we will be re-launching the Racial & Economic Justice Council. This will be a space for members to come together and share issues they are working on and organize with each other – learn more at the USFWC Spring Member Meeting May 24th.
  • Movimiento de Inmigrantes en las CooperativasWe are re-launching the MIC! Movimiento para Immigrantes Cooperativistas has been a dormant space and we are actively working to re-engage members and identify pressing issues to organize around. We will be holding a breakout discussion about this at the Spring Member Meeting on May 24th.


  • Co-op Booksellers Peer NetworkAt the co-op booksellers monthly meeting, they discussed some of the challenges of their tight margin industry and relying on unpaid labor to keep the co-ops operational.
  • Tech Worker Co-ops Peer NetworkThe Tech Worker Co-op Peer Network has gained some new and returning attendees as we start up again after a break in 2022. The group has been engaging with the international tech co-op community through a new international federation for tech worker co-ops called Patio, and sharing resources for connecting with clients.
  • Federation Partners Peer NetworkAt the quarterly meeting, the Federation Partners discussed the upcoming State of the Sector worker co-op census and plans for data sharing with the USFWC.
  • Co-op Academies Peer NetworkFor their second USFWC meeting, the co-op academies did a resource exchange and discussed strategies for pre- and post-academy engagement for participants.

Members, be sure to register for our USFWC Virtual Spring Member Meeting May 24th to hear more from your Member Councils and help shape their future work!

Skill Up! Co-op Clinic Virtual Summit Announcement

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The USFWC Co-op Clinic invites you to attend our half-day Virtual Summit: a space for deepening education and growing capacity for worker-owners, cooperatives, and support organizations.

This is an opportunity to connect with other cooperatives across the country this spring, and meet the Co-op clinic team and the greater USFWC community. The summit will be hosted via Zoom and all sessions will be accessible in English and Spanish. Session recordings with closed captions will be provided to registered participants.

🌱Skill up! Co-op Clinic Virtual Summit🌱
Thursday, May 11th, 2023 from 1:00 – 4:30 pm ET

A graphic with photos in frames that are shaped like flowers and seedling sprouts – the photos show groups of worker-owners at cooperative business and organizations who are diverse in age, color and gender expression posing around a meeting table and with surgical masks in a grocery store. Text that reads “Join the united states federation of worker cooperatives for Skill up! A co-op clinic virtual summit, Thursday May 11th, 2023 1pm to 4:30pm eastern time”

Come grow your knowledge and skills in one of three 2-hour, 2-part workshop tracks. Workshop tracks include:

Intro to Financial Literacy
A dive into tools and best practices for making your cooperative financially sustainable.
Working through Conflict
A session focusing on conflict: why it happens, and best practices for working through it in your cooperative.
Providing Workers Benefits
A discussion of strategies and considerations for providing worker benefits for cooperatives. In addition, an opportunity to learn more about the USFWC worker benefits program!

Join Us
If you’re new to cooperativism, recently joined your cooperative, or looking to deepen your skills in finance, conflict mediation, or providing worker benefits to your cooperative, this summit is for you!

How to Register
Registration coming soon.

Is there a cost to attend this event?
We want this to be accessible to all, and we also hope to make this a sustainable event. The suggested donation is $25.00 – $35.00 per person. Your donation will go towards covering interpretation, facilitation, and coordination costs. We invite you to give what you are able to support and enjoy this event!