The Greater University Circle Initiative is a unique partnership between the public sector, Northeast Ohio’s philanthropic community and University Circle’s anchor institutions. Launched in 2005, it leverages the $3 billion of annual purchasing power of these vibrant anchor institutions to help catalyze and build community-based businesses that create green jobs and ultimately drive economic stability of nearby low-wealth communities.
As part of a larger socially responsive redevelopment strategy that includes such ambitious initiatives as the popular Uptown District, the Opportunity Corridor and the Health Tech corridor, Evergreen Cooperatives directly tackles the area’s history of disinvestment and economic inequality.
Partially modeled on Spain’s Mondragon Cooperatives network—which employs nearly 100,000 people and generates about $20 billion in annual revenues—the Evergreen cooperatives seek to empower community residents by replacing a cycle of subsidy and dependence with jobs that build ownership equity. They accomplish that through developing worker-owned businesses that pay living wages even as they build an intricate regional supply chain for these anchor institutions, one rooted in the local neighborhoods.