Cooperative Law

Cleveland Ohio Cooperative business lawyer at Positive Law

Positive Law, LLC provides specialized legal assistance to those looking to start, convert, merge, or sell a cooperative (coop) business in Ohio.  We are huge fans of cooperatives! We believe in cooperatives — whether that’s worker-owned cooperatives, or consumer, producer, or purchasing coops, or a model that’s a combo of cooperatives.  Cooperative business models offer savvy entrepreneurs options (often little known) to collaborate and share resources, increase buying power, and build enterprises that will sustain and empower a dedicated work force.   An overview of the different types of coops is provided below.

Are You Looking to Start Up a Cooperative Business in Ohio?

We provide legal guidance and advise on how to start a cooperative (coop) business in Ohio.  Ohio has some of the most flexible and cooperative-friendly laws in the country, which means you can easily startup your cooperative in Ohio and still do business in other states or foreign countries.  Here’s a link to some helpful resources to get you started. 

What is a Cooperative (or COOP)?

Generally, a cooperative (also interchangeably called a coop or co-op) is a type of business model that at a minimum embraces the following 7 Principles of Cooperatives:

  1. Voluntary and Open Membership
  2. Democratic Member Control
  3. Member Economic Participation
  4. Autonomy and Independence
  5. Education, Training, and Information
  6. Cooperation among Cooperatives
  7. Concern for Community

Are You Interested in Converting Your Current Enterprise to A Cooperative or ESOP?  Do you know the differences?

We advise and assist existing enterprises interested in converting to a worker cooperative, ESOP (Employee Stock Option Program), or other employee-owned trust models (employee ownership trusts (EOTS)We can help you understand your options, you can determine if converting to an employee-ownership model is right for your enterprise. You can read here more about the differences between worker cooperatives and ESOPs.

Are There Different Types of Cooperatives?

Yes, there are at least five different types of cooperative business models in Ohio, plus ESOPS (which are actually trusts). Here’s a quick overview and examples of each, and a link to learn more:

  • Consumer Cooperative (also called Social Cooperatives): owned by consumers who buy goods or services from their cooperative (i.e., a local climbing gym – where the members are the individuals who use the gym).
  • Producer Cooperative: owned by producers of commodities or crafts who have joined forces to process and market their products (i.e., individual farms come together to form a coop to market products, share transportation costs, etc.).
  • Worker Cooperative (or employee-owned coop): owned and democratically governed by employees who become co-op members (i.e., a local brewery or restaurant, but note that this is a governance structure that can be used by many types of business).
  • Purchasing Cooperative: owned by independent businesses or municipalities to improve their purchasing power (i.e., solar installation companies that come together to buy needed supplies, like solar panels, in bulk). 
  • Multi-stakeholder Cooperative: a combination of the co-op types above, where people with common interests band together.     

What Type of Cooperative Is Best for Me?

The best type of cooperative for your business (or no cooperative at all) will depend on various factors.  These include what you or your members are trying to achieve, the culture of your enterprise, as well as important tax considerations. 

Please email or call (800) 806-1803 to schedule an appointment to discuss these and other considerations