CLEVELAND, OH— U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Cleveland Foundation President and CEO Ronald Richard today marked the one-year anniversary of the Evergreen Laundry Cooperative and discussed a “one-year report card” for the worker-owned cooperative.
The new report, prepared by the Cleveland Foundation, outlines the benefits that the laundry and another year-old Evergreen business, Ohio Cooperative Solar, have brought to the Cleveland community after one year of operation. In their first year, the two Evergreen businesses have created nearly 50 new jobs, and they offer those employees a chance at something life-changing: the opportunity to build equity as small-business owners.
“The Evergreen Cooperative initiative is a model for how we can create green jobs in communities all across Ohio and the country,” Brown said. “These for-profit, environmentally responsible businesses are helping revive historic but often neglected neighborhoods in downtown Cleveland. Most importantly, the Evergreen Cooperatives are putting Ohioans back to work in good-paying jobs—and over time, those employees even have a stake in the company. It’s a truly revolutionary way of doing business that promotes local economic development.”
“It’s exciting to test new ideas like the Evergreen cooperatives,” Richard said. “These aren’t charitable enterprises – they’re for-profit businesses that respond to market needs. But what’s unique is that they have a higher purpose than profit alone. They’re tools to bring vitality and hope to places and people who have had too little of both.”
The solar co-op has been profitable for most of its first year, while the laundry expects to be in the black by year’s end, Evergreen officials say.
The Evergreen Laundry Cooperative, located in Cleveland’s Glenville neighborhood, launders linens from hospitals, nursing homes, and hotels, using ultra-energy-efficient technology and recycling waste heat and water. It launders approximately 3 million pounds of linens each year, with a capacity of 10 million pounds.
Brown and Richard also outlined plans to invest in more worker-owned cooperatives, which keep wealth in the community and provide good-paying jobs and benefits to workers. Later this year, construction is expected to begin on the Green City Growers Cooperative, a 5-acre urban greenhouse on 10 acres of land in Cleveland’s Central neighborhood. The hydroponic greenhouse will supply anchor institutions and large food distributors in northeast Ohio with fresh herbs and up to 5 million pounds of lettuce per year, and plans call for up to 50 owner-employees.
The Evergreen Cooperative Businesses of Cleveland are employee-owned, for-profit companies creating green jobs for northeast Ohio. Workers in the Evergreen Cooperative—which include Evergreen Laundry, Ohio Solar Cooperative, Greater University Circle Neighborhood Voice, and the upcoming Green City Growers —build equity in their firms as owners of the business.
The Evergreen Cooperative is a partnership between the residents of six of Cleveland’s neighborhoods, the Cleveland Foundation, the City of Cleveland and several of the city’s most important “anchor institutions”—Case Western Reserve University, the Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals, and many others.