Social Enterprise in Orange County?

The Executive Team of the Orange County Partnership to End Homelessness is interested in ideas for possible social enterprises in the county that could provide sustainable, living wage jobs for our homeless and low-income neighbors.

One possible model is being tried in Cleveland, Ohio, which though a much more urbanized area, could provide an example for us:

The Evergreen  Cooperatives Initiative is creating not just well-paid, sustainable jobs but also wealth in the form of ten, for-profit, green businesses that will be owned and operated by local residents through a partnership between residents of six neighborhoods, the Cleveland Foundation, the City of Cleveland, Case Western Reserve University, the Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals and others. These businesses include the Evergreen Co-operative Laundry, the Ohio Solar Co-operative, and Green City Growers. All are worker cooperatives that hire locally and whose customers include partners in this venture and others (Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals, Case Western Reserve University, City of Cleveland, and the Cleveland Housing Network).   


Could we do something similar here in Orange County?

Any ideas for a business/social enterprise that might be viable here? 

What else would you want to know? 


Are you familiar with Sustaniable South Bronx (Majora Carter)? They are another good model for merging green development with job creation.Also, back in the days of the IT advisory board, we had many discussions about the opportunities for getting low-income youth involved in teaching technical skills to older adults as part of workforce development. At that time, we were able to get the town's older computers (5 year replacement schedule) donated to the Pine Knolls Association and Empowerment. Moving the computers from local govt ownership to non-profit ownership was a major hassle, but the idea for engaging homless youth in technical training has been very successful in Philadelphia through a program called The Children's Partnership.

I need to look into Sustainable South Bronx and The Children's Partnership. Thanks Terri.Aaron Nelson, Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber Director, has floated one idea around a local hotel with laundry facilities serving other local hotels and restaurants laundering needs while putting local people to work. Any thoughts on that idea? How might it work?Incidentally (or not), Aaron is teaching a class at the UNC School of Social Work called 'Creating Sustainability Enterprises' and next week's topic is 'Social Entrepreneurship and Social  Enterprise' presented by Chris Gergen of Bull City Forward and the Duke University Entrepreneurial Leadership Institute (and, yes, David Gergen's son).The presentation is on Monday, Feb. 7th from 5:30 to 6:30 in room 500 of the Tate Turner Kuralt Building at UNC. 

If the goal is to help people get off the streets, then whatever is done needs to incorporate the larger goal of living above the poverty level. So while laundry services would have certain value as a short term solution, the longer term solution would need to include training and educational opportunities. At TROSA in Durham, which I consider to be a model rehab program, they offervocational training, education, communication, and leadership training. Since many of the homeless have health problems, I'd add health literacy into the mix. I'd also include financial literacy. 


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