Engage the Team: Adapting the Evergreen Model for Your Community
Cities all across the country have taken note of our work here in Cleveland, Ohio. Interest is growing to build Evergreen-like initiatives elsewhere. We now have a suite of services to support adapting the Evergreen model throughout our nation. Working through a series of strategic partnerships, the Evergreen Cooperative Corporation (ECC) can help bring other initiatives to fruition from start to finish. If you or your organization is thinking about creating a similar effort in your community to create jobs, build wealth, and stabilize neighborhoods, ECC can assist you every step of the way.
To start, we think it’s important to note that Evergreen isn’t just about cooperative businesses. We employ a host of different types of entities to support our mission. For example, we have a community development financial institution (CDFI), a loan fund that provides financing to launch new Evergreen businesses and are in the process of creating additional strategies to support our mission. We’ve developed a series of “phases” we think it best to follow in order to adapt the Evergreen model in your community.
Phase One: Community Wealth Building Pre-Feasibility Assessment
We have a team in place that will help you build a list of the types of local organizations necessary to adapt the Evergreen model. They set up interviews with the leaders of these different organizations to assess their interest and capacity for such an undertaking. Through the course of this process, the team identifies, where appropriate, a set of mechanisms like cooperative businesses that can create community wealth. At the conclusion of this phase, the team provides a comprehensive report assessing the ability of the local organizations to create a community wealth building initiative based on the Evergreen model.
Phase Two: Developing a Feasibility Plan
This phase goes beyond the interviews and report to focus on solidifying a community of supportive organizations and developing a plan for implementing the strategies identified in the first phase. Our team will work to solidify the relationships necessary to build each of the identified strategies and develop a plan for launching each strategy. This entails going back to many of the people interviewed in the first phase to determine exactly how they can be involved. It entails working to help secure funding for the effort. It also entails soliciting members of our national network who are experts in different community wealth building strategies to do the work necessary for launching other strategies.
Phase Three: Business Plan Development
This phase is where the community moves into more concretely developing a business plan for those businesses or other community wealth building mechanisms deemed viable through the first and second phases. Evergreen Business Services would work to develop business plans for any cooperative businesses, while one or more members of our national network of experts would assist on any other strategies like individual development accounts, social enterprises, CDFIs, and others. The main goal of this phase is to finalize everything in order to launch any businesses and/or other community wealth building strategies as the next phase of the effort.
Phase Four: Launching the Businesses & Other Strategies
After the business plans have been developed, it’s time to bring the financing together for each of the strategies to actually launch them. This requires actively building upon the organizational partnerships developed through the first three phases. Partnerships around workforce development will have to begin its work. Anchor institutions will have to get things ready on their end to purchase goods and/services from a create business. Our team can assist in the management of all these process as well as further assist in fundraising, accounting, entrepreneurial development, HR services, legal services, and a host of other operations-oriented services each business and additional strategy will need.
Phase Five: Full Project Management
This phase involves our commitment of day-to-day operations of launching the enterprise. This phase includes putting people and processes in place to support the effort long-term. It goes beyond the basic consulting and recommendations proposed in Phase Four to move into decision-making, implementation, and management of the overall effort. This stage is purely performance driven and outcome and results oriented.