Annapolis Valley set to host national worker co-op conference this fall

19 Sep 2014 | Archives

WOLFVILLE, NS. – The Canadian Worker Co-operative Federation (CWCF) has announced plans to host its 23rd annual fall conference in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley from November 5-8, together with co-host CoopZone (www.coopzone.coop).

The three-day (+) conference, which brings together many of the Federation’s 60 member organizations and 100 indirect members from across the country, aims to strengthen Canada’s growing worker cooperative sector. It features a number of workshops, collaborative planning sessions, and guest speakers. This year’s keynote speaker is José Orbaiceta, President of CICOPA-Mercosur, Argentina.

A worker co-op, for the uninitiated, is a form of business where a company’s employees own and democratically manage the business. Typically, they share in both the business’ decision-making and its profit. Currently, there are an estimated 350 worker co-ops across Canada, employing 10,000 people. The Annapolis Valley is home to a number of worker co-operatives including Careforce and JustUs! Coffee Roasters. It is also home to several other co-operatives, such as Scotian Gold, Valley Credit Union, the Wolfville Farmers’ Market, the Deep Roots Music Co-op, and the Acadia Cinema Co-op.

Federation Executive Director, Hazel Corcoran, says that changing economic conditions have led more businesses and entrepreneurs to explore the worker co-op model. “In contrast to the fragility of working for a non-local corporately-owned business, worker co-ops offer employees a chance to control their own destiny because they run the company.” She adds that demographics are also fuelling interest in worker co-ops. “As more baby boomers prepare to retire and sell their businesses, they are realizing that selling to employees can be an attractive option as a way to obtain a fair price, as well as for legacy reasons,” says Corcoran.

The conference theme – Member Engagement and External Partnerships – encourages co-ops to build stronger relationships with member-owners while building bridges with governments, other enterprises and organizations, and other co-ops around the world. Therewill also be workshops on financing, pricing, branding, worker co-ops 101, and more.

The conference is open to non-members too, and people can attend all or only part of it.  The Program is available here: www.canadianworker.coop/2014Conference , and on-line registration is here: bit.ly/cwcf2014.  The evening session on Wed., Nov. 5th, called “Selling your Business to your Employees,” is aimed at local business owners but open to all.  The evening Co-op Showcase on Thursday, November 6th, in which several co-ops from across the region and the country will give a fast-paced Ignite style presentation, is free, and open to the local community. 

Conference presenters include JOSE ORBAICETA, President of CICOPA-Mercosur, Argentina; KAREN MINER, Managing Director of Saint Mary’s University’s Co-operative Management Education program; and RYSZARD STOCKI, lead developer of the Worker Co-op Index, from Poland. 

For more information/interviews, contact:  Hazel Corcoran: (403) 276-8250, or (403) 585-1102 (cell)

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