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Green City Growers

This company offers customers healthy greens -- and employees ownership opportunities

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Green City Growers isn't just in the business of making and selling delicious greens in the Cleveland, Ohio, area. It's also in the business of helping its employees achieve financial success.

As a worker cooperative, Green City Growers offers employees the chance to own part of the company after one year of employment. Worker-owner benefits include credit management and car and mortgage assistance, as well as bonuses and savings for retirement. All of this goes a long way, especially in the economically depressed Central neighborhood where the 3.25-acre greenhouse is located.

"Giving people a stake in where they work oftentimes improves their overall job satisfaction, and we define a quality job as one where one is able to share in the upside of the business," said Director of Strategic Projects Brett Jones. "Taking a wage-plus-profit approach via the worker cooperative structure really is a way to maximize economic benefit."

The greenhouse uses a hydroponic growing system on float beds, with plants such as butter lettuce, mixed greens and basil taking about 45 days to complete their growing cycle in shallow pools of nutrient-rich water. They yield around 400,000 plants per month from 13 ponds that are about the size of a football field each.

And though they started by selling only to clients in Cleveland, they're slowly starting to branch out. "We recently had some good fortune in that the demand for the product has gone beyond just Ohio, so now we're shipping into Pittsburgh, as well as into Detroit and Chicago," Jones said.

All of this means that customers are receiving healthy and delicious greens with a low carbon footprint, while employees are getting their fair share of the profits. It sounds like a win/win.

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