Although the Evergreen Cooperative Laundry, which poured concrete on May 28, 2009, will be a small enterprise within the multibillion dollar initiative to redevelop Cleveland’s Greater University Circle area, its many creators have launched it with the expectation that it will play a very large role in establishing a new generation of worker cooperatives in Cleveland.
The laundry is part of the Cleveland Foundation’s economic inclusion strategy to reach out to the Greater University Circle (GUC) neighborhood residents with an approach that promises more visible success than past efforts. ‘For years, I ran job training programs worth hundreds of millions of dollars, and yet when I looked around the neighborhoods, I thought, ‘Where is the impact?” said India Pierce Lee, Program Director for Neighborhoods, Housing, and Community Development at the Cleveland Foundation.
Lee’s thousand-watt smile is on full power when she talks about the plan for the cooperatives. ‘This is a way to get the residents long-term employment and ownership,’ she says.