Woman taking order from customer

your co-op's success is our success

Across the Southeastern United States, we’ve used our expertise in community development and our legal knowledge to help co-ops and small business startups thrive. Here are just a few of our clients who have turned their ideas into successful co-ops.

co-op startup

Pecan Milk Cooperative

worker cooperative

Newton, Georgia pecan/map illustration

The delightful taste of a cold glass of homemade almond milk on a hot Georgia day. That was the single spark that ignited Nijil Jones, a 20-year-old social justice movement worker, to start the Pecan Milk Cooperative in 2014.

Instead of almonds, Jones used the abundance of pecans growing locally in Georgia to provide an alternative to dairy milk to customers. Starting this cooperative enterprise also gave Jones a way to create dignified work in a safe workspace for a diverse workforce. All of these aspects contribute positively to the economy statewide, locally in the tiny city of Newton, and in the larger metropolitan area of Atlanta.

As an employee-owned business, Pecan Milk Cooperative envisions an economically democratic, broadly-defined South in which once marginalized communities enjoy food sovereignty.

“Pecan Milk is selling well … and we’re working on getting into more stores. The support we have received from Carolina Common Enterprise and so many in the co-op sector is making it possible for this co-op, in which all owners are under 35, nearly all are black and LGBT, and several are immigrants, to thrive.”

– Nijil Jones, Founder

co-op conversion

Electric Violin Shop

worker cooperative

When Blaise Kielar opened a small business to sell high-quality amplification gear in Durham, North Carolina in 1978, he had no idea Electric Violin Shop (EVS) would become a global company. Musicians worldwide seek out his company’s expertise on bowed-string instruments. Closer to home, EVS created jobs and contributed economically to the community in a variety of ways.

When Kielar was ready to retire, he sold his ownership interest in the business to three longtime employees. They restructured EVS into a worker-owned cooperative.

As a cooperative enterprise, Electric Violin Shop can continue Kielar’s mission to promote and expand the field of electric bowed string instruments while providing expertise and excellent service to string players. This successful co-op conversion keeps a thriving business open that contributes to the local economy.

Shop illustration

“I am so grateful for the financial organizations that support the community enterprise movement. Without their funding, we could not have turned Electric Violin Shop into a worker-owned co-op. This has allowed me to retire and my loyal staff to own the business.”

– Blaise Kielar, Founder

Fertile Ground Food Cooperative

food cooperative

Built on the principles of employee ownership, education and concern for the community, Fertile Ground Food Cooperative is developing a multi-stakeholder food cooperative and community gathering space in a primarily African-American community in Southeast Raleigh.

As one of CCE’s first cooperative partners, we helped Fertile Ground organize, file articles of incorporation and write bylaws to get started.

CCE continues to work with Fertile Ground by facilitating a committee to produce an expanded business plan and financial projections. We’re also currently seeking additional sources of capital and securing loan financing for the cooperative.

raleigh, north carolina

Forsyth Foodworks

producer cooperative

Promoting healthy communities and strong local economies through local food is the mission that motivated Forsyth Foodworks to form a co-op focused on food policy for residents of Forsyth County in North Carolina.

CCE guided the initial development, food systems planning and feasibility process for the nonprofit planning cooperative. We helped facilitate the multi-stakeholder relationships, provided legal services such as articles of incorporation and other documents, and offered support through ongoing technical assistance.

forsyth county, north carolina

Piedmont Progressive Farmers Group

producer cooperative

Underserved and small farmers continue to have trouble accessing profitable markets in north central North Carolina and southern Virginia. The Piedmont Progressive Farmers Group (PPFG) supports these farmers by promoting sustainable and diverse farming through education, training, technical assistance and marketing.

PPFG primarily sells products directly to consumers at area farmers markets. They are also experiencing some growth in sales to food coops and other institutional buyers such as school systems and food distributors.

CCE performed a feasibility study for the group and will continue to work with PPFG to implement their strategic plan.

north carolina and virginia

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