Starting up a Regional Economic Community
The steps described below do not have to be followed in exactly this order. Be open to creative deviations, as long as you don't lose sight of the overall plan.
Form a Founding Group
A community cannot be started single-handedly. Thus you will need to form a group with like-minded people, which is willing to take responsibility for the founding of the Regional Economic Community. The founding of a (German) Cooperative requires a minimum of three members.
Take time for each other and get to know the others as well as possible. Who is able and willing to do which tasks? Lay down rules for how you will want to deal with each other should conflicts arise. Practise communicating and interacting with each other in a respectful and open way. Experience and observation show that the energy of the founding group will ripple out to the new enterprise, sure as eggs is eggs!
The founding members ought to have understood the concept of the Regional Economic Community very clearly, including both the concepts of the CPO and the market community.
However, it is essential and an absolute requirement for the foundation of this enterprise that the founding members see the new enterprise as a collaboration requiring team work: the emphasis is on cooperation and individual responsibility, not individual interests.
The founding members ought to be willing and able to buy the first joint-ownership certificates of the cooperative through monetary contributions, in order to cover the founding costs.
Keep a record of the time you are investing in the foundation. Reach an agreement within the founding group about how this time investment is to be remunerated (e.g. with activity points).
Determine who is to be the official contact person of the founding group.
Don't reinvent the wheel – try to get advice from ReeComms which have already paved the way, or from the concept authors.
A business plan for the Cooperative
Draw up a business plan for the Regional Economic Community. The business plan may also be needed in order to become a member of the cooperative union. In Germany, every cooperative has to be a member of a cooperative union.
Plan the infrastructure of the CPO as well as the market community for their future operation. Will you need an office or are you going to work together in a decentralised way? Do you need new PCs?
Which tasks of the future operations will you be able to do yourself? Which do you want to outsource? What expenses are going to come your way and how will you cover them?
Proclamation – get your plans publicly known
Invite interested businesspeople, citizens, investors, representatives of the city council, etc. and introduce the concept to them. Afterwards, collect and sort through the ideas and impressions which you encounter at these events.
Find out who is willing to contribute financially and/or actively and in which areas. Collect the addresses of interested people. Speak openly with those people. Adhere to the principle of transparency from day one.
Cooperative Charter and Contracts
Put together the charter for the Cooperative as well as draft contracts. If possible, find a qualified solicitor or lawyer who wants to join the cooperative to work with on these topics.
Choose the cooperative union of which the new cooperative shall be a member. Pay attention to what support you get for which price from the different unions. Inform yourself about the founding costs.
Find appropriate businesses
The first companies or projects which are to be run by the CPO have to be found. These can be existing companies which wants to become (more) long-term viable, or companies or projects which are to be newly founded. Make sure that you have companies in different branches to spread risk, and if possible that their products serve basic needs.
In the case of an already existing company, you should make a preliminary contract with this company for the handover into cooperative property, before you work out a detailed plan for this company and begin courting the investors. A written statement of intent from both sides and laying out the next steps helps in finding the people to buy the joint-ownership certificates.
Realistic road-maps for the businesses
Draw up plans how the companies can become (more) long-term viable. Determine the required money, skills and other resources as realistically as possible. Make a schedule which is also as realistic as possible.
Find and convince appropriate shareholders
Find shareholders who are willing and able to contribute the required money, material goods and/or do the necessary work.
Found the Cooperative
Once the first company / companies as well as potential shareholders have been found and a long-term viable plan has been made, you can found the Cooperative as prepared.
The founding meeting decides on the amount and price of the joint-ownership certificates needed in the beginning. The company / companies and their existing shareholders become members of the cooperative at the founding meeting.
Once the Cooperative has been founded, you can sell further certificates, install the infrastructure of the business divisions and start with the actual work ;-)