City of Austin to provide training, education on co-op businesses

The city of Austin says it is now the first Texas city to invest in cooperative-owned businesses to eradicate racial and economic inequalities.

In December 2020, the Austin City Council approved a contract with the University of Texas, Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) to provide training, coaching and guidance to anyone interested in starting a cooperative venture or a residence.

The city says a cooperative is defined as an independent group of people who come together to meet common work or housing needs through shared ownership and democratic control of a business or residence.

The City of Austin offers a series of six courses designed and taught by experts in the collaborative business model.

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Under the contract with UTRGV, the city offers a series of six courses designed and taught by experts in the collaborative business model. Topics are:

  • Introduction to worker-owned cooperatives is intended for groups and individuals who are at an early stage of learning or starting a cooperative owned by workers
  • Education and governance of housing associations aims to provide participants with the knowledge and tools they need to create a cooperative living space
  • Convert your small business to a collaborative format is suitable for both business owners and potential employees. Class will detail the conversion process from the perspective of both owners and buyers from employees.
  • Cooperative governance will address key governance concepts and participants will have the opportunity to develop example governance scenarios in small groups.
  • Finance and accounting for cooperatives provides an overview for groups and individuals forming or operating cooperatives, with the financial and accounting nuances specific to this type of business.
  • Worker Co-op Management is intended for groups in the early to mid-stage creation of a worker-owned business to find out what structure makes sense for their collaborative project and how to put their management plans into action.

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“The Austin community is a welcoming environment for cooperatives like Wheatsville, Black Star Co-op, ATX Taxi Co-op or the UT Bookstore. We want to educate our residents and business owners about the benefits of cooperatives and encourage the cooperatives to create more cooperatives in Austin, “said Veronica Briseño, chief economic recovery officer, in a press release.

The courses in spring 2021 will be offered as online webinars. Additional coaching sessions are possible by appointment. The first class, an introduction to cooperative housing, will take place on March 24th at 6pm

For a full description of all co-op courses and to enroll, visit the Small Business Division registration page, click the Webinars tab, and scroll down to find your class.

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