NORTHAMPTON – With Wall Street at a low point in public opinion, a group of local worker cooperatives is building a fund to help its members as well as new cooperatives trying to get off the ground.
Valley Alliance of Worker Cooperatives has nine members throughout the Pioneer Valley, from Holyoke to Greenfield. Each of the business is owned and operated by the people who work there, giving them powers and responsibilities not found at other places of work.
“You’re able to use your values and determine where your money is going,” said Adam Trott of Collective Copies, one of the founding members of the group, which has been in existence since 2005.
The latest member is Simple, a Holyoke-based cooperative that offers compostable diapers and chemical-free linen laundering. With Simple about to hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony, Trott said it’s a good time for other cooperative ventures.
“People are more ready for something new when there are difficult economic times,” he said.
To this end, the Valley Alliance of Worker Cooperatives is establishing a fund that can loan money to new and existing cooperatives. As Trott explained it, each member contributes 5 percent of its annual profits toward the fund. The Valley Alliance of Worker Cooperatives has also recently partnered with the Cooperative Fund of New England, availing itself of the fund’s expertise and staff.
The Cooperative Fund of New England, Trott said, has cooperative members throughout New England and eastern New York, and more than $1 million in assets. The local group of cooperatives will look to it for help in vetting and procession loan applications.
“They’re great,” Trott said. “It’s a totally solid organization.”