Collaboration Between Cleveland Clinic and Evergreen Cooperative Laundry Supports Health and Wellbeing of Local Community

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Katrina Healy, 216.386.0955

Evergreen Cooperative Laundry (ECL) and Cleveland Clinic have announced a new collaboration where the worker-owned cooperative will take over management of the health system’s laundry facility in Cleveland’s Collinwood neighborhood.

The expansion brings more than 100 new employees into ECL, joining the 50 workers employed at its original laundry facility in Glenville.

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Evergreen Cooperative Laundry employees and Cleveland City Council members Blaine Griffin and Michael Polensek holding the proclamation from City of Cleveland. (Courtesy: Reen Nemeth / Cleveland Clinic)

Celebrating this milestone, a proclamation from the City of Cleveland was delivered, highlighting the collaboration between ECL and Cleveland Clinic that will help strengthen and support the vitality of the local economy.

“The City of Cleveland welcomes the opportunity for all businesses—new or well established—to participate and grow in our community,” said Mayor Frank G. Jackson.

RELATED: Cleveland Clinic’s Annual Community Benefit Reaches Highest-Ever Total at $809 million

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Cleveland Ward 8 Councilman Michael Polensek (seated), Cleveland Clinic Executive Director of Patient Support Services Ralph Turner, Cleveland Chief of Regional Development Ed Rybka, President of Evergreen Cooperative Laundry Allen Grasa, and ECL worker-owner and manager Claudia Oates holding proclamation. (Courtesy: Reen Nemeth / Cleveland Clinic)

To create jobs and build wealth, ECL and the other Evergreen Cooperatives leverage the purchasing power of “anchor institutions”—large non-profit economic engines like hospitals and
universities with a commitment to mission and place. The Collinwood laundry facility is now owned by Cleveland Clinic, and services the health system. By shifting the contract for the operations of this facility to ECL, Cleveland Clinic is using its economic resources—in this case, where it services more than 19 million lbs of its laundry each year—to build a stronger local economy.

Ralph Turner, executive director of patient support services at Cleveland Clinic, said “We are proud of this new collaboration with Evergreen Cooperatives because of the impact it will have
on the local community. We see this as an important step we can take to support the health and wellbeing of our neighbors, including the ECL employees.”

RELATED: Community Leaders, and Telemedicine, Can Help Narrow the Gap in Minority Men’s Health

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Evergreen Cooperative Laundry facility in Collinwood neighborhood. (Courtesy: Reen Nemeth / Cleveland Clinic)

Employee-owned businesses like Evergreen Cooperatives are a key strategy for building community wealth. According to Jessica Rose, Director of Employee Ownership Programs at The Democracy Collaborative, “When a business is owned by its employees it benefits because workers are more invested in its success. Those employees and their families benefit because they share in profits and decision-making, and the whole community benefits because employee-owned businesses promote economic stability by staying local.”

For the worker-owners of ECL, investing in this expansion is a true milestone. For Greg Bosl of ECL, “I have been here since 2010 and I have seen our company go from only 5 customers to where we are today. As a worker-owner I know what I do every day as an employee impacts our business. I am proud to see what we have accomplished as a worker-owned cooperative.”

RELATED: Cleveland Clinic Providing Safe Way for Community to Dispose Unneeded Medications

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More than 100 new employees work at the Evergreen Cooperative Laundry facility. (Courtesy: Reen Nemeth / Cleveland Clinic)

Their new co-workers at the Collinwood plant will be offered an accelerated path to worker-ownership.

According to Collinwood worker Olga Jebbison, “This is a great opportunity to work for a laundry that offers the benefit of becoming a worker-owner within 6 months. I am so excited!”

ECL, the first of the Evergreen Cooperatives, launched in 2009, with the support of the Cleveland Foundation and other local stakeholders.

The Cooperatives employ a total of 220 workers and have inspired similar projects connecting anchor purchasing to local community wealth building across the United States and beyond.