In December 2020, Austin City Council approved a contract with the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) to provide training, coaching, and "How To" information to anyone interested in starting a co-op business or residence.
The city says a co-op is defined as an independent group of people who join to meet common work or housing needs through shared ownership and democratic control of a business or residence.
The City of Austin is offering a series of six courses designed and taught by experts on the cooperative business model.
The City, through the contract with UTRGV, is offering a series of six courses designed and taught by experts on the cooperative business model. Topics include:
- Introduction to Worker-owned Cooperatives is for groups and individuals at the early stages of learning about or forming a worker-owned cooperative
- Housing Cooperative Formation and Governance is designed to give participants the knowledge and tools they need to create cooperative housing
- Convert your Small Business to a Cooperative Format is appropriate for business owners as well as prospective employee-owners. Class will detail the conversion process from the perspective of both owner-sellers and employee-buyers.
- Cooperative Governance will address key concepts in governance, and participants will have an opportunity to work through sample governance scenarios in small groups.
- Finances and Accounting for Cooperatives provides an overview for groups and individuals forming or running cooperatives of the financial and accounting nuances specific to this business type.
- Worker Co-op Management is for groups at the early to intermediate stages of forming a worker-owned business to identify which structure makes sense for their cooperative project and guidance for how to turn their management plans into action.
"The Austin community is a welcoming environment for cooperatives, like Wheatsville, Black Star Co-op, ATX Taxi Co-op, or the U.T. bookstore. We want to educate our residents and business owners of the benefits of co-ops and encourage the creation of more co-ops in Austin," said chief economic recovery officer Veronica Briseño in a release.
Spring 2021 courses will be offered as online webinars, with supplemental coaching sessions available by appointment. The first class, an introduction to co-op housing, will be held on March 24 at 6 p.m.
For complete descriptions of all co-op courses and to register, visit the Small Business Division registration site, click the Webinars tab, and scroll down to find your class.