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History of GDUCI

The Greater Dayton Union Co-op Initiative was founded in 2015 by members of the Dayton community committed to the twin missions of addressing Dayton’s food crisis and incubating cooperative businesses to bring sustainable jobs to Dayton. Incorporated as a non-profit in Spring of 2016, GDUCI has chosen its first major project to be the development and launch of a community and worker owned grocery store on Salem Avenue on the Northwest side of Dayton.

Gem City Market Community Meeting

The GDUCI founders were inspired by the progress of the Cincinnati Union Co-op Initiative (CUCI) to bring a multi-stakeholder cooperative grocery store to the Northside neighborhood in Cincinnati. GDUCI founders evaluated CUCI’s model — which is based on the very successful, long-established Mondragon/Eroski worker and consumer owned grocery cooperatives. This model integrates meaningful community engagement and long-term workforce development as foundational to its success, not simply an afterthought or side project. GDUCI felt this was a unique strategy could meet the challenges of the Dayton market. GDUCI has now built a strong partnership with CUCI, with a comprehensive resource- and information-sharing agreement and shared governance.

As we studied and learned more about the history and theory of cooperative development, it became clear that worker-ownership represents a democratic and economically sound way to address many gaps and issues in our city from the grass-roots up. The group decided to broaden our vision beyond food access and work to become an incubator for worker owned cooperative businesses that address community needs while building wealth in the community.

GDUCI was incorporated in April of 2016, committed to the twin missions of filling community needs created by economic divestment, and of incubating cooperative businesses to create family-sustaining jobs.