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The Industrial Commons

Rebuilding a diverse working class

The Industrial Commons is transforming life for workers in Western North Carolina by driving economic opportunity and spurring locally rooted wealth.

Based in a region that experienced dramatic job loss in the textile and furniture industries between the 1980s through the 2000s, The Industrial Commons was started by a group of locals with first-hand experience working on the factory floor. The group believed these industries were still powerful assets for the region, and set out to create a more resilient and sustainable sector and improve the livelihoods of the area’s working class.

Since its founding in 2015, The Industrial Commons’ cooperative economic model has helped revitalize the region from the inside out. It has supported over 4,400 workers through its member-led network of textile manufacturers and workplace development programs, and created opportunities for workers to share in the ownership of businesses, to buy homes, and become part of the fabric of the community. Its economic development work taps into one of the central desires of local residents: the chance to have a voice and agency in their workplace as they create better lives for themselves, their families, and their communities.

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Photos courtesy of Industrial Commons / Bottom left photo credit: Franzi Charen