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Abstract

The economic outlook of the United States is dire. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, poverty has not lessened even as U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has rebounded following the Great Recession. This paper explores the development potential of joint worker-community cooperative structures during the current economic downturn by analyzing the “Cleveland model,” a network of worker-owned cooperatives supported by local education/healthcare "anchor" institutions and financed and organized by a non-profit community development corporation. I find that while worker and community-owned enterprises hold significant promise for both workers and communities in times of economic stagnation and ecological danger, existing market structures and pressures threaten their long-term viability.