Cleveland’s Evergreen Cooperative Laundry will triple its workforce after taking over management of the Cleveland Clinic’s laundry facility.
The new plant will brings more than 100 new employees into the company, alongside the 50 workers at its original laundry in Glenville.
Local authorities welcomed the collaboration between the co-op and Cleveland Clinic, which is based on a model developed by the Democracy Collaborative. Known as the Cleveland model, the approach focuses on getting local anchor institutions such as hospitals, universities, local councils or schools to change their procurement policies to work with co-ops.
“The City of Cleveland welcomes the opportunity for all businesses—new or well established—to participate and grow in our community,” said Cleveland mayor Frank Jackson. “Investments from employee-owned companies like Evergreen Cooperative Laundry help create more wealth for people in our neighbourhoods while making our city an even more desirable place to live, work, play and do business.”
Cleveland Evergreen Cooperative Laundry is part of the Evergreen Cooperatives, a network of co-op businesses located in disinvested areas, which create jobs and benefit the local community.
Brett Jones, executive vice president at the Evergreen Cooperatives, said: “This expansion validates the core idea at the heart of the Evergreen model—that businesses owned by workers can succeed and thrive in the market, helping close the wealth gap.”
Currently owned by Cleveland Clinic, the Collinwood laundry facility services the health system. The partnership will see the clinic shift the contract for the operations of the laundry to the Evergreen Cooperative Laundry, contributing to the local economy.
Jessica Rose, director of Employee Ownership Programs at the Democracy Collaborative, says having a stake in the business enables worker members to feel more connected to it. “When a business is owned by its employees it benefits because workers are more invested in its success. Those employees and their families benefit because they share in profits and decision-making, and the whole community benefits because employee-owned businesses promote economic stability by staying local.”
Greg Bosl, worker-owner of ECL since 2010, said: “As a worker-owner I know what I do every day as an employee impacts our business. I am proud to see what we have accomplished as a worker-owned co-operative.”
With the co-op taking over laundry, the employees of the Collinwood plant will be offered an accelerated path to worker-ownership. Collinwood worker Olga Jebbison commented: “This is a great opportunity to work for a laundry that offers the benefit of becoming a worker-owner within six months. I am so excited!”
The Evergreen Cooperatives employ a total of 220 workers. The Cleveland model has been adopted by other communities across the US, as well as in Preston, the UK.