United we stand 

The Oklahoma Worker Cooperative Network plans to host several “incubator meetings” throughout Central Oklahoma between Sept. 29 and Oct. 25.

Worker cooperatives are businesses owned and operated by the employees, said Robert Waldrop,  the network’s general manager and one of the founders of the Oklahoma Food Cooperative.

The organization formed this year.

Waldrop said the current economic climate provided the ideal avenue for nurturing a proliferation of worker cooperatives.

“We need good jobs and the best jobs in effect are jobs owned by the worker, because there’s no chance of them being outsourced to India or China or places like that,” he said.

The group states its goal is to promote the development of worker co-ops in the state by creating a structure of support involving education, business incubation, access to financing and training in order to empower stakeholders to bring about economic opportunity, personal development and revitalize local communities.

The advantage of workers being involved in such cooperatives, said Matthew Jordan, OWCN board member, is that they are not prone to layoffs when the economy stumbles.

“Worker-owned cooperatives are local solutions to global problems,” Jordan said. “By encouraging the development of worker cooperatives, we can recession-proof our economy.”

The goal of the meetings is to help educate those interested in forming worker cooperatives on how to do so, Waldrop said. He’ll also share stories of such cooperatives existing in several states.

“The OWCN will develop and support worker co-ops by building public awareness and helping people work through the steps of starting a business,” Waldrop said. “We will take participants from the initial idea, to writing the business plan, funding options and operational management. Oklahomans are an independent breed, but we know the power of working together, as well as the value of self-reliance — and worker cooperatives are the best way to achieve both.”


All events start at 7 p.m. and end at 9 p.m. Pre-registration is not required.

Southeast OKC — Sept. 29 Midwest City Public Library, Room B 8143 E. Reno

Northeast OKC — Oct. 6 Lang Center of Corpus Christi Church 1010 N.E. 15th

Northwest OKC — Oct. 3 St. Charles Borromeo Church, Rooms A-B 5024 N. Grove

Southwest OKC — Oct. 4 Capital Hill Church of the Nazarene 3412 S. Shartel

Norman — Oct. 10 St. Mark the Evangelist Church, Lake Room 3939 W. Tecumseh

Shawnee — Oct. 11 Pottawatomie County Extension, Cowboy Classroom 14001 Acme

Stillwater — Oct. 18 St. John the Evangelist University Parish 201 N. Knoblock

Edmond – Oct. 24 Edmond Public Library, Room A 10 S. Boulevard

El Reno – Oct. 25 Owl Make It Shop 114 S. Rock Island

For more information, call 593-8327 or email info@okie.coop.

Photo by Mark Hancock

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