These Three Businesses Are Creating A Worker-Owned Economy in Detroit

Worker-owned cooperatives are still a rarity in the American economy, but these Detroit businesses say they have key advantages. And it’s not just profit-sharing.

Jake Neher/WDET
Jake Neher/WDET

October is National Co-op Month. In the business context, a co-op is a company where the workers are also the owners.

The co-op economy in Detroit is one that is often overlooked in the story of Detroit’s recovery. On Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson, the heads of three co-op’s came in to talk about the advantages of worker-owned businesses, and why they might be different than you may think. 

Click on the player above to local worker-owned businesses talk about their model, and read profiles of each one below.

1. Center for Community-Based Enterprise

What: A consulting company for local co-ops. 

Why a co-op? “Cooperation in the black community is something that is resurgent now, it’s something that people understand, and its part of the culture,” says Karen Tyler-Ruiz, executive director of Center for Community-Based Enterprise, Inc. in Detroit. Tyler-Ruiz tells Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson that figuring out the right business model to embrace that culture is important, and that question is not new here in Detroit.


2. Pingree Detroit

What: A boot-making company that employs local veterans

Why a co-op? “With our structure, the only thing that changes and shifts as we become worker-owned is that there’s more involvement. It’s more than just profit sharing,” says Jarret Schlaff, CEO of Pingree Detroit.


3. Detroit Community Wealth Fund

What: The Detroit Community Wealth Fund is a non-extractive loan fund to support cooperatives in Detroit. They support grassroots projects that want to become cooperative enterprises.

Why a co-op? “It’s just hard to get financing in this kind of ownership model,” says the fund’s executive director Margo Dalal. “We really believe that, in order to change that, in order to change our economy, we need to have a democratically owned and operated economy, which means that, even the loan fund ourselves, we are a democratic loan fund.”


  • Detroit Today
    Dynamic and diverse voices. News, politics, community and the issues that define our region. Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson, Detroit Today brings you fresh and perceptive views weekdays at 9 am and 7 pm.