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Documentary Film Crew Shoots at Kent State University

Posted Oct. 31, 2011 | Foluke Omosun
enter photo description
Ashley Hernandez of the Ohio Employee Ownership
Center conducting training of worker-owners at Evergreen
Cooperative Laundry in Cleveland.

The Ohio Employee Ownership Center at Kent State University will be featured in a documentary that will likely air on PBS when completed. Shift Change: Putting Democracy to Work is a documentary film in progress by veteran award-winning filmmakers Melissa Young and Mark Dworkin. The documentary tells the stories of successful employee-owned businesses.

“The purpose of the documentary is to help publicize the existence of good businesses that are owned by their employees,” says Young. “Employee-owned businesses can be one of the solutions to the unemployment challenges that we face, and can help resolve inequity in terms of income, little democracy on the job, and also help keep jobs in the community.”

For more than 30 years, the Ohio Employee Ownership Center at Kent State has provided technical assistance, financial expertise and training to help businesses become employee owned and successful. The center also played a key role in designing and launching the Evergreen Cooperatives in Cleveland, an employee-owned laundry company that is expanding into other business areas.

“We filmed at Kent State because of the center’s crucial role in helping to promote employee-owned businesses through its services,” says Young. “The center at Kent State has been involved in the Evergreen Cooperatives in Cleveland, and many other places. It is not simple for businesses to create a more participatory culture or to change from one structure to another,” she says.

Bill McIntyre, director of the Ohio Employee Ownership Center, says the center provides training to retiring owners and to employee-owned companies to help them establish and maintain an ownership culture at their companies. “With globalization, employee ownership provides companies with an increased ability to compete and be successful in a global market,” McIntyre says. “This results in jobs for people, wealth creation for employee owners, sustainable companies and increased stability for their communities.

McIntyre says “Employee owners tend not to send their jobs overseas, and the wealth they create tends to stay in their communities. We have seen employee ownership benefit employee owners personally, professionally and financially.”

According to Young, there is growing interest in firms that are owned and managed by their workers. “Such firms tend to be more profitable and innovative, and more committed to the communities where they are based,” she says.

Parts of the documentary will also be shot at different locations around Northeast Ohio and in Spain. The documentary will be completed next year to coincide with the International Year of the Cooperative that was declared by the United Nations.

For more information about the Ohio Employee Ownership Center at Kent State, visit www.oeockent.org. Learn more about the documentary by visiting http://shiftchange.org.