National Development Council Honors Evergreen Cooperative Laundry

Worker-owned business chosen one of top four development projects in United States

Release Date: 06.14.2011

CLEVELAND – The National Development Council, the oldest national nonprofit community development organization in the United States, has chosen Evergreen Cooperative Laundry in Glenville as one of the four best development projects in the country. The award was announced recently at the Council’s biennial conference in Washington.

Founded in October 2009, Evergreen Cooperative Laundry is a worker-owned, commercial laundry serving nursing homes, hospitals, and hotels using the greenest methods available.

Evergreen benefits customers by using less water, energy, and chemicals, enabling clients to operate more sustainably while keeping costs down. Evergreen benefits the community by providing life-changing employment to residents from some of the city’s poorest neighborhoods.

Workers earn above-average wages and full benefits while earning equity in their businesses; worker-owners can expect to earn about $65,000 in equity after eight years on the job. The laundry currently employs 22 worker-owners.  

The National Development Council recognized Evergreen as an innovative approach to job creation and neighborhood stabilization, and reviewers noted that they were particularly impressed by the laundry’s efforts to hire ex-offenders. Evergreen Laundry won in the category of community development.

Evergreen Cooperative Laundry is part of Evergreen Cooperatives, a group of worker-owned, for-profit businesses launched by a coalition including the Cleveland Foundation, Case Western Reserve University, the Cleveland Clinic, and University Hospitals.

“We congratulate the worker-owners and our partners on this wonderful recognition from the National Development Council,” said Robert Eckardt, executive vice president of the Cleveland Foundation. “The Evergreen initiative was prompted by the efforts of Case, the Clinic, and UH to purchase goods and services locally rather than from out of town.

“Evergreen keeps those purchases local, and it provides unemployed or underemployed residents a chance to become small business owners and build their personal wealth in a meaningful way.”

The National Development Council considered entries from across the country before deciding on 24 finalists. In addition to Evergreen in Cleveland, other award winners were the C.C. Woodson Community Center in Spartanburg, S.C. (creative financing); the Brewery Main Block Development Project in Jamaica Plain, Mass. (job creation); and the St. Charles Parish Affordable Housing, St. Charles Parish, La. (affordable housing). For more about the projects, visit http://nationaldevelopmentcouncil.org/blog/.

“The quality of the projects and the important work done to improve communities across the country is truly impressive,” said Bob Davenport, president of the National Development Council.   

###

Established in 1914, the Cleveland Foundation is the world’s first community foundation and the nation’s second largest today, with assets of $1.9 billion and 2010 grants of nearly $87 million. The foundation improves the lives of Greater Clevelanders by building community endowment, addressing needs through grantmaking, and providing leadership on vital issues. The foundation proactively directs two-thirds of its flexible grant dollars to the community’s greatest needs: economic transformation, public-school improvement, youth development, neighborhoods, and arts advancement. For more information on the Cleveland Foundation, please visit ClevelandFoundation.org.

For more than 40 years, the National Development Council (NDC) has worked to create and implement economic and community development strategies that increase the flow of capital, establish finance programs and help to create a professional economic and community development workforce.  NDC offers a wide range of services, including development assistance, professional training, small business financing and debt and equity for residential, commercial, public and non-profit facilities projects. To learn more, please visit www.nationaldevelopmentcouncil.org.