(Saturday) How Co-operatives Build Stronger Local Economies

Join Bonnie Hudspeth (Neighboring Food Co-op Association), Matt Cropp (Vermont Employee Ownership Center) and Dan Rosenberg (Real Pickles Cooperative) for a discussion of how co-ops are building stronger, more inclusive local economies.  The panel will include a discussion of the social and economic impacts co-ops are having on communities throughout New England and beyond, an overview of the trend of businesses converting to worker-owned co-ops, and a case study of a recent business conversion to co-operative ownership.  It will also include an overview of the co-operative investment club model as a means to organize a community’s co-op supporters and mobilize grassroots capital for co-op development.


Bonnie Hudspeth serves as Member Programs Manager of the Neighboring Food Co-Op Association (NFCA), a network of more than 35 food co-ops and start-up initiatives locally owned by over 130,000 people across the Northeast.  Together, the co-ops of the NFCA are working toward a vision of a thriving co-operative economy, rooted in a healthy, just and sustainable food system and collaboration among co-ops. She also serves on the board of the Cooperative Fund of New England.  Bonnie holds a master's degree in Sustainable Community Development through Antioch University New England.

Matt Cropp is the Associate Director of the Vermont Employee Ownership Center (VEOC) and serves as Chief Manager of the Vermont Solidarity Investing Club (VSIC).  The VEOC is a statewide non-profit whose mission is to promote and foster employee ownership in order to broaden capital ownership, deepen employee participation, retain jobs, increase living standards for working families, and stabilize communities.  VSIC is a co-op-focused investment club comprised of a cross-sector membership of co-op supporters who commit to investing between $20 and $150 per month and democratically decide on how to deploy the aggregated funds in support of strengthening the co-op economy.  Matt first became interested in the co-op model after learning about credit unions during the Financial crisis in 2008, and wrote his Masters thesis in History on the founding and first 25 years of the Vermont State Employees Credit Union.  He's also involved in the #PlatformCoop movement and a co-op brewery start-up, and lives in Burlington, Vermont with his partner and two rabbits.

Dan Rosenberg is a social entrepreneur and food system activist based in western Massachusetts.  He is founder and general manager of Real Pickles, an organic food manufacturing company producing naturally fermented pickles from Northeast-grown ingredients.  In 2013, Dan oversaw the conversion of Real Pickles to a worker-owned cooperative using an innovative community financing model.  Dan also serves on the board of Equity Trust, and is active with the Pioneer Valley chapter of Slow Money.