Are you an entrepreneur looking for information on starting a worker-owned cooperative as a tool to jump start your business?
Unlimited Future, Inc. has invited Leslie Schaller of ACEnet in Athens, OH, to lead the following workshops that will provide a useful introduction to business models for worker-owned businesses. The Worker-Owned Basics Seminar will be held twice on May 12th; once from 1-3pm and again from 6-8pm. On May 13th from 9am-12pm, Worker Owned Steps to Incorporation workshop will be held for individuals and groups with cooperative business ideas that are looking for technical assistance to get started.
To reserve your seat for the May 13th Worker-Owned Steps to Incorporation worksop, call 304-697-3007. May 12th workshops do not require registration. Please call Lauren at 304-697-3007, if you have questions.
Worker-owned Restaurant Corporation Story
Back in the spring of 1985, a group of eight recently unemployed restaurant workers decided to form a worker-owned cooperative. The original founders had never run a business before, but collectively had over 100 years of restaurant experience and the determination to create their own livelihoods. Fortunately, the Appalachian Center for Economic Networks (then Worker Owned Network,) had recently formed in the spring of 1985 to promote community-based economic development in the region through the formation of worker-owned businesses. Through their staff’s tutelage, the coop’s founders developed a business plan, secured financing and created the foundation of Casa Nueva’s cooperative structure.
With the passage of time, Casa Nueva has expanded to include the Casa Cantina which opened in October of 1993 and our Casa Nueva Salsa and Limited Harvest product lines which we began manufacturing in 1987. In 2003, the owners embarked on the largest expansion project in the corporation’s history: doubling the size of the Cantina seating, increasing the premises by an additional storefront and adding a second kitchen. The Bodega kitchen has allowed us to expand our menu options and expand our appetizer selections. Although our salsa production is currently on hiatus, we have been enjoying our recent return to the Athens Farmer’s Market as a vendor of fresh salsas, dressings and baked goods.
Throughout our history, we have consistently maintained a commitment to ownership opportunities for all our employees. Every employee of the corporation has the opportunity to also become a shareholder. Before employees are accepted into the cooperative, they are required to attend a number of workshops focused on cooperative and financial education to become fully aware of both their rights and responsibilities as owners. To a large extent, membership’s initiative to provide input on policies and procedures has paved the way for our overall development as an innovative, well-managed business.
Communicating our mission and core values to our fellow owners, customers, suppliers and community in tangible ways is extremely important to us; as well as being good collaborators, learners and listeners within the economic system. Although Casa Nueva or “new house” isn’t so new any more, our owners stay committed to creating “what’s new” both as a business and cooperative. At Casa, we feel that our efforts are part of a larger movement in which owners can provide direction and vision to create a workplace in which all individuals are treated with equality, respect and compassion.