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  • Think Upstream

Four cornerstones of an inclusive economy

Public anchor institutions, community-owned enterprises, community benefit agreements, and a living wage are the ingredients of an inclusive economy.

A neon sign that reads "You belong here."

Anchor institutions

Anchor institutions are non-profit, public, or community-owned entities that provide "sticky capital", meaning that it does not easily leave the region and their missions allow them to use their economic resources to invest in social value. Think: hospitals, universities, municipal governments, and more. Anchor collaboratives provide the opportunity to develop best practices for social impact across anchor institutions, focusing on employment and social procurement opportunities.

Community benefit agreements

Community benefit agreements increase the social impact of funds spent by the government or anchor institutions by aligning spending with broader social, economic, and policy objectives. Community benefits are becoming an important tool for community wealth building and addressing social and economic inclusion.

​Conversions to community ownership


Without succession plans, many retirement-aged businesses are at risk of closing when the owner retires. Many small- and medium-sized businesses are not attractive to venture capital, which seeks high rates of return. This is particularly true in high-labour, low-margin industries. That could result in avoidable job losses.

Here’s a succession plan: Conversions to community ownership structures can include cooperative ownership structures, such as worker ownership, or other community-owned structures, such as multi-stakeholder cooperatives, non-profit corporations, or social enterprises with cooperative governance.

Living wage initiatives

A living wage is different from the provincially mandated minimum wage. Local living wage calculations take into account what it actually costs say, two parents raising two children to live in any given community. It factors in the cost of housing, child care, food, transportation, and bills like hydro, cell phones, and laundry. There is a growing movement of employers in Canada who are voluntarily signing up to become certified living wage employers. They understand that paying a living wage is not only good for the employee, it’s good for the company’s bottom line because you have healthier, happier, more engaged workers.


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