Making business democratic: The Cooperation Group gives Detroiters avenues for collective ownership

B. Anthony Holley and Lisa Stolarski have vivid memories of their first time meeting. Stolarski, who had been the executive director for the National Cooperative Business Association’s domestic development program and on several boards for cooperatives around the country, had a small grant to do some consulting at the Field Street Collective, an incubator on the east side for community-minded businesses.

Unfortunately for Stolarski, some of the business owners weren’t receptive to her efforts to help them make, well, money. “At the price they wanted to sell the hats they were knitting, they’d make about $4.50 an hour,” she says. “That’s obviously not sustainable.”

Holley, a native Detroiter with a degree from Hampton University School of Business, could speak both the language of business and community, and helped Stolarski communicate with members of the collective.

“Sometimes people have a block when it comes to terms like money and profit,” Stolarski says. “He gave me language that would land better with people.”

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