Notes from the discussion:
Almost no support or recognition for worker co-ops in mainstream business/entrepreneur/startup space as of now.
Supporting existing housing co-ops - tax abatement, as some are struggling (some are flourishing)
Kevin Gustafson drafted legislation for worker co-ops, which included provisions on:
Capital gains exclusions for conversions,
Income exclusions (corporate and individual) to incentivize growth and make it easier and more profitable to sell to a worker co-op,
Tax holidays as well.
View drafted legislation here: DC Cooperative Ownership and Development Act V1.5.docx
Biggest issue is access to capital - there are a lot of CDFIs but there could be a DC gov Coop Dev Corp (a way to single source all that work. District could give loans or loan guarantees).
Most traditional financial institutions don’t understand and don’t have confidence with co-ops.
There could be a business TOPA - right of first refusal for workers to buy the business. Not in America yet, but exists elsewhere.
Having a CBE for co-ops, ease of accessing public procurement contracts.
The Federal SBA doesn't allow loan guarantees to worker co-ops so a DC co-op loan guarantee system would help level the playing field and provide data on how low the risk is for those loans.
Worker, Housing, Consumer, Producer, Credit Unions should all work together
Directory of co-op laws by state: State-Cooperative-Statute-Library-Updated-October-2019.xlsb.xlsx
Employee Ownership Center - TA and know-how. Already is an Employee-Ownership Exchange that sets these up. WACIF and their GWCEO could interface with it
Bonds is bringing back a series of housing co-op bills, majority of the Council are co-sponsors. Advisory Council permanent, as well as tax support for LEC with income restrictions.
View more information on DC housing co-op bills at dchousing.coop
Community Purchase Alliance - focused on buying from minority-owned businesses
Having Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) use LECs more - low hanging fruit would be basic data for development so they are tracking the co-ops - they have a staff person now in place to support this
Allow LECs to utilize tax credits
Need an expansive definition of co-ops in the law
Co-ops should be explicitly added to new bills being reviewed that are relevant to economic development when they are not already included on lists of qualifying entity types.
Obstacle: Community wealth versus individual wealth conversation - gives access and infrastructure to folks who don’t have the capacity to be a sole landlord or sole business owner
Will plan to meet with Mr. Parker again in the new year once the next legislative session is underway
History of co-ops in DC: Home Rule from Below: The Cooperative Movement in Washington, DC by Johanna Bockman