Owning Maine’s Future: Fostering a Cooperative Economy in Maine

Maine’s  economy  faces  a  host  of  well-known  challenges:  reliance  on  natural  resource  extraction  or  low-quality  service  jobs,  geographic  isolation,  challenging  climate,  and  out-migration,  especially  of  young  adults.  Staying  on  this  course  is  undesirable,  but  traditional economic development fixes have had limited success. The authors examine the possibilities of making cooperatively owned businesses a central feature of Maine’s economy.  They  outline  the  characteristics,  benefits,  and  challenges  of  cooperatives  and  identify  six  important  sectors  of  the  Maine economy  in  which  cooperative  ownership already plays an important role or could make more contributions to economic and community vitality. The authors describe several other regions, with a focus on Finland, with strong cooperative economies or businesses, and examine the socioeconomic benefits and institutional features that encourage the development of cooperatives. The article concludes with policy recommendations that could facilitate similar outcomes in Maine.

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