The Wellspring Collaborative is creating an engine for new, community-based job creation in inner-city Springfield based on the purchasing power of area anchor institutions–the colleges, universities and hospitals that purchase over $1.5 billion worth of goods and services a year. Preliminary research indicates that less than 10% of these funds are spent within Springfield, and very little circulates in the low-income neighborhoods that surround the city’s anchor institutions.
Wellspring’s goal is to use anchor institution purchases to create a network of worker-owned businesses located in the inner city that will provide job training and entry-level jobs to unemployed and underemployed residents. Worker-owned companies that employ local residents will tend to stay in the neighborhoods where people live and enable them to increase their personal assets as their companies grow. New business development in the inner city will also play an important part in revitalizing blighted neighborhoods.
This initiative is modeled after the successful Evergreen Cooperatives in Cleveland, which are using anchor institution purchases to create worker-owned companies and jobs in the inner city. Since 2009, Cleveland’s Evergreen Cooperatives have launched three worker-owned businesses: a $5.7 million, state-of-the-art green laundry, a hydroponic greenhouse the size of a football field that will grow greens and herbs, and a solar installation business that will install photovoltaic panels.