Local Business Investment Cooperative Revitalizes Main Street Economy

by Vins
Published: Updated:

The intersection of Central and Lowry avenues in Northeast Minneapolis has recently been redeveloped to revitalize the local economy. Central Avenue had been designed as the main street of the neighborhood yet until the Northeast Investment Cooperative (NEIC) stepped in vacant buildings were common due to many years of disinvestment. NEIC was incorporated in 2011 based on a model of a similar co-op in Sangudo, Alberta. The co-op functions as an investment opportunity: Community members buy one-thousand dollar shares; the capital is then used to purchase retail space for local businesses to use. Since its founding, NEIC has helped develop retail space for a bike shop, brewery, and bakery.

NEIC’s model serves the local community by offering a wide range of benefits to its members, which in turn benefit shareholders since they are community members. Since shareholders want the businesses to succeed, they provide patronage to the businesses, making this system a somewhat self-sustaining cycle. Additionally, cooperatives like NEIC create new jobs and provide goods and services that may have been lacking in the local economy, thereby helping to revitalize it. Beyond such indirect benefits, NEIC has developed a system of dividends for those who invest above the standard single-share price. The cooperative in Sangudo has also been billed as providing a safer investment option for retirement than the fickle stock market.

While co-ops of this nature prove incredibly beneficial for a community’s local economy, they have not been covered by corporate news media at all as of March 8th, 2015 and thus have not received widespread attention from the American public. The only print news sources to cover this topic have been the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the Calgary Herald, and the Edmonton Journal, all local newspapers.

Source: Olivia LaVecchia, “These Neighbors Got Together to Buy Vacant Buildings. Now They’re Renting to Bakers and Brewers,” Yes! Magazine, February 23, 2015, http://www.yesmagazine.org/new-economy/neighbors-got-together-buy-vacant-buildings-renting-bike-shop-brewer.

Student Researcher: Peter Staub (Pomona College)

Faculty Evaluator: Andy Lee Roth (Pomona College)