Cooperatives come in all shapes and sizes. If you’re reading this in our magazine, you belong to an electric cooperative.
But I bet you also patronize several other co-ops in our community. Do you shop at Oryana? Purchase the products you need for your farm at CHS? Bank at one of our local credit unions?
When you join or support a local cooperative, you are helping to keep your money local.
Cooperatives generally get their start in response to community needs. No access to electricity in rural areas? Start a co-op. Can’t find high quality organic or locally grown food at the grocery store? Start a co-op.
That’s why I am so excited that there is a new local cooperative on the scene.
Commongrounds is Traverse City’s first real estate cooperative. I have the privilege of serving as the Vice-Chairperson of the Commongrounds board. Put simply, our goal is to develop real estate that meets community needs and improves the quality of life in our region.
Our pilot development project will be breaking ground at 416 E. Eight St. this year. This mixed-use building will bring childcare, coworking space, a performing arts venue, a culinary incubator, and residential units to the North Boardman district. The residential units will be priced affordably for downtown.
The cooperative membership will be comprised of community owners who have helped fund the building and tenant owners who will live and work in the building. All owners will have representation on the board of the cooperative and get special owner-only perks when using the building.
Once the building is up and running, any margins we make will be returned back to our member-owners.
One of the things I love about creating a new cooperative is the sustainability of the business model. We are creating a building that is responsive to the needs of our community today. But someday, long after I’m gone, a new board will make sure the building and our future developments serve the need of their community – a community we haven’t even envisioned yet.
We’re not just building four walls. We’re building the foundation for something that will sustain our community in the future.
When I look across our community, I’m excited to see the strong cooperatives already here.
I am also grateful for the opportunity to support the launch of Commongrounds Cooperative. But I hope it’s not the last new co-op we start in town.
This business model has proven time and again that it can help make our community better. We should do more of it.