Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.


Urban and Public Affairs

Degree Program

Urban and Public Affairs, PhD

Committee Chair

Imbroscio, David

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Negrey, Cynthia

Committee Member

Negrey, Cynthia

Committee Member

Koven, Steven

Committee Member

Markowitz, Lisa

Author's Keywords

urban politics; cooperatives; cleveland; jackson; economic development; labor


This dissertation explores the topic of urban policies relating to worker-owned cooperatives, and the political conditions surrounding worker-owned cooperatives in American cities. The topic is studied through a comparison between two case study cities: Cleveland, Ohio and Jackson, Mississippi. Through the collection of public records and interviews with policymakers, analysts, and community activists, this study details the current policy status towards worker-owned cooperatives and the political context for the worker-ownership movement in each city. The study also offers preliminary assessments of existing worker-owned cooperatives and explores the obstacles facing worker-owned enterprises in the selected cities. The findings of the case study in Cleveland are that the city’s government supported the establishment of the Evergreen Cooperatives in the form of loans, grants, and tax incentives, but has not adopted an economic development strategy focused on worker-ownership. The study in Cleveland also finds that no strong political movement yet exists for a shift towards worker-ownership. The Evergreen Cooperatives have made some progress towards building community wealth, but it is limited until they grow further; the progress towards self-determination is more limited. In Jackson, the city’s government has voiced support for pro-cooperative policies and still is working to implement policies favorable towards worker-ownership—but has not successfully done so yet. Worker-ownership became a relevant part of the political discourse in Jackson thanks to a movement which produced mayors Chokwe Lumumba and Chokwe Antar Lumumba. The movement also helped spawn Cooperation Jackson, which split with the latter Lumumba’s mayoral administration. More time is needed to get a complete assessment of both cases, and cooperatives in each city will need to continue growing before it can be determined whether they fully achieve their intended results. The results of the dissertation fill gaps in scholarly knowledge about the details of pro-cooperative policies in Cleveland and Jackson and furthers understanding of the political climate relating to worker-ownership in each city. The cases can be used by researchers and cooperative advocates to understand what more needs to be done to successfully see pro-cooperative policies implemented in those cities and what challenges face other cities interested in worker-ownership.