The American Planning Association’s (APA) Economic Development Division has awarded Jon Springfield (MUP ’15) a Holzheimer Memorial Student Scholarship. The Holzheimer Scholarship is for a student essay that provides substantial insights to economic development practitioners regarding a major issue in the field.
Springfield is being recognized for his paper “Cooperative Business Development Driven by Anchor Institution Leadership–Recommendations for the Black Mardi Gras Indians in New Orleans.” This paper grew out of research that Springfield conducted as part of a course at MIT. Based on stakeholder interviews and an online survey, Springfield evaluates the potential for Black Mardi Gras Indians to develop cooperative textile businesses that cater to hotels. He offers detailed recommendations relative to the possible structures and activities of such cooperatives.
Reflecting on his research, Springfield highlighted the potential of cooperative ownership structures to improve quality of life for low-income groups. Said Springfield, “I think that policies that allow employees to benefit from increased ownership, agency, and access to skill-building opportunities—whether through a cooperatively-owned business, an Employee Stock Ownership Plan, or a hybrid structure—[are] an important complementary shift that needs to happen in tandem with recent movements towards increased minimum, or ‘living,’ wages.”
Springfield also noted that there is a need for additional research regarding cooperatives: “I hope more work can be done in studying expansion [of cooperatives] to a more regional scale. I also hope that [researchers undertake] more strategic study and understanding of how potential business sectors—[…] fresh produce and small-scale agriculture, food products, services such as laundry and home healthcare, green building and renewable energy initiatives, or others—can be incorporated into regional strategies.”
The Holzheimer Scholarship provides Springfield with an excellent opportunity to inform numerous practitioners of the importance of this research agenda.