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The Supreme Court rules funding for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is okay, election deniers hold key voting oversight positions in swing states, and North Carolina lawmakers vote to ban people from wearing masks in public.

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ReImagine Appalachia plans co-ops to kick-start new energy economy

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Friday, March 22, 2024   

Leaders in Ohio and the other Appalachian states have a plan to turn the regional economy around.

Natural resources from the Appalachian region once powered much of American industry but the area suffered an economic collapse in the late 1970s and 1980s. Now, the group ReImagine Appalachia plans to use worker cooperatives to take advantage of the transition to a new energy economy.

Wendy Patton, research director for ReImagine Appalachia, said it is an opportunity they could not pass up.

"There are new possibilities for the region and for companies in the region," Patton asserted. "Maybe a once-in-a-generation chance to explore how to anchor investments in the region and create the kind of wealth that doesn't come and go, but that is sustained through time."

Patton explained the worker co-ops will focus on sectors like renewable energy infrastructure, sustainable manufacturing and high-speed internet construction. She noted they will be structured with voluntary and open membership, democratic member control and employee economic participation.

Patton pointed out a report produced by the University of Massachusetts-Amherst said climate change will drive the renewable economy, and predicts co-ops could provide good jobs for more than 235,000 Ohioans every year for the next decade.

"Throughout Central Appalachia, that's served by ReImagine Appalachia, there are great technical assistance, training and financing centers, to which people can go," Patton outlined. "Here in Ohio, the Ohio Employee Ownership Center has, for 30 years, received state support and helps thousands of companies."

Patton notes that cooperatives have also been linked to improved labor productivity and other aspects of business performance, and enhanced job satisfaction.

Disclosure: Reimagine Appalachia contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Energy Policy, and Sustainable Agriculture. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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