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Carbondale Spring Cooperative Business Fund

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***Update: 9/12/19***

Carbondale Spring announces the Carbondale Cooperative Revolving Loan Fund,
end of Fat Patties crowdfund

Carbondale Spring has announced the inaugural board for the Carbondale Cooperative Revolving Loan Fund (RLF). RLFs are a self-replenishing financial tool, commonly utilized for small businesses. Carbondale Spring will restrict use to worker-owned cooperatives. The RLF will act independently of other Carbondale Spring efforts and operate as a non-profit. The Board consists of:

- Dr. Ken Stikkers. Professor of Philosophy at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, specializing in philosophy of Economics and Africana philosophy. Dr. Stikkers is former Chair of the Mondragon West Development Group, and former Consultant for Puget Sound Cooperative Federation.

- Amy McMorrow-Hunter. Head of Marketing and New Program Development at the Advanced Coal Energy Research Center, specialized in market and technology research, entrepreneur within the climate economy sector. 

- Ray Lenzi. Former CEO of SIU Research Park, former CEO of SIU Foundation, current Democratic candidate for IL 12th Congressional District.

- Chuck Paprocki.  Former Management Strategy Consultant for International NGOs, leader in the Illinois Food, Farms, and Jobs Council.

- Beau Henson. Community Economic Developer, former Economic Development Specialist for Greater Egypt Planning, Delta Leadership Institute Fellow.

“Carbondale Spring is thrilled to announce the first Cooperative RLF Board,” said Henson. “This an impressive group full of cooperative and conventional business development experience. We hope this is the initial step towards a nascent cooperative sector in southern Illinois.”

Carbondale Spring also calls for women, people of color, LGBTQ and other marginalized candidates to participate in the Carbondale Cooperative RLF Understudy Group. The Understudy Group will get firsthand training and lending experience, with a direct path to sitting on the Board.

“Not only will people who have been excluded from entrepreneurship in the conventional economy be prioritized in the loan process, this is also an opportunity for marginalized people to participate in complex skill-sharing otherwise unavailable to most,” said organizer Clare Killman. 

Carbondale Spring also announced an end to its Fat Patties/Worker-Coop Crowdfund. The fundraiser failed to meet its goal by the purchase deadline. However, the effort successfully raised over $26,100. As stated in the GoFundMe promotional video for Fat Patties, the funds will immediately capitalize the Cooperative RLF. The RLF will immediately consider small-scale cooperative projects. It has also been invited to apply for the next round of USDA Rural Business Development Grants. The Carbondale Spring will also continue its efforts to further capitalize the Cooperative Business Fund with funds from the City of Carbondale.

“While we are disappointed Carbondale’s first worker cooperative will have to wait, we care too much about the cooperative business fund. We appreciate the overwhelming generosity displayed by the donations and are not willing going into our first venture undercapitalized. We are confident that we have a model that can transform economic life in Carbondale and we want to give that model the best shot at success,” said organizer Nick Smaligo.

“Undercapitalization is the number one reason for restaurant failure in the first year. We aren’t here to waste people’s time and money,” added Henson.

You are still welcome to donate to our Cooperative Business Fund. In the coming weeks, we will be announcing a Call for Proposals for worker-owned cooperatives and business conversions to apply for funding through this fund. Stay tuned!

*** NOTE: Below is our original text for the Fat Patties fundraiser. As described above, however, we are no longer raising funds for Fat Patties.***

Fat Patties was first opened in 2009 with the promise of delivering Carbondale the burgers that the owner wanted but could never find. For ten years, it delivered on that promise, serving the best burgers in southern Illinois. But in January of this year, Fat Patties closed abruptly -- even though it was still a viable business. 

We want Fat Patties back, and we want it to make a new, even bolder promise... The new Fat Patties will deliver Carbondale both delicious burgers --- and a new way to work!

The Carbondale Spring needs your help to re-open Fat Patties as the first worker-owned cooperative in Carbondale. A worker-owned cooperative is a business in which the workers are also the owners . Workers themselves own the business, manage the business, and share the profits. 

There are examples of successful worker-owned cooperatives around the country and around the world. These workplaces tend to be organized more efficiently and have higher job satisfaction  when compared to traditional businesses. 

Fat Patties has a long history of prioritizing local sourcing for its ingredients and as worker-owners we will commit ourselves expanding our reliance on local produce and meat in order to build an ecologically resilient regional economy. We will also be bringing back the amazing home-made veggie burger!

Carbondale Spring is a grassroots vision for transforming Carbondale into a city building resilience in the face of economic and ecological crises, and foregrounding compassionate responses to social problems. To learn more about the Carbondale Spring, visit

Paying it forward to other workers in Carbondale

When you donate, you won't just be donating to re-open a great burger joint. You will be kicking off the Carbondale Spring's "Cooperative Business Fund."

Here's how it works:

- You help us raise $45,000 to reopen Fat Patties.

- Worker-owners of Fat Patties treat that money as a loan, paying it back into a "Cooperative Business Fund."

- That money then becomes available to loan out to other workers in Carbondale or the surrounding area that want to buy their businesses and transition them into worker-owned cooperatives.

- They pay the loans back into the fund also, and the cycle repeats.

The more worker cooperatives we have, the larger the Cooperative Business Fund grows and the more worker coops we can make.

In other words, the money you donate today will be paid forward to other workers in Carbondale through this Cooperative Business Fund! This model is called a "Revolving Loan Fund," or RLF, which we are redesigning to grow a cooperative business ecosystem in southern Illinois.

Any money we receive above the $45,000 we are asking for will go immediately into this fund.

 And the Carbondale Spring will continue its efforts to expand that fund , so more and more workers in the area can become worker-owners.

 Similarly, if for some reason we don't make our goal, all donations will go in the Cooperative Business Fund for future worker-owned cooperatives.

Want to learn more about worker-owned cooperatives? Check out this great FAQ  put together by the Democracy at Work Institute.

How the money's getting spent 

With the $45,000 we are raising here, we will:

- Purchase the equipment to re-open Fat Patties

- Update the ventilation system

- Cover the start-up costs to get you great burgers this Fall!

Rewards for your generosity

We are happy to receive donations of any amount, no matter the size.

If you donate $25, as an expression of our gratitude, you'll get your first meal on us -- a burger, fries, a soft drink, and a big thank you for helping us get going.

If you step it up and donate $100, you'll get your first meal on the house PLUS a limited edition ‘Fat Patties Collective’ T-shirt designed by local artist Jason Wonnell 


What if you love this idea so much and think its exactly what Carbondale needs and want to donate $500? Good question. We will honor your $500 gift with all of the above, PLUS a ‘Burger of the Week’ named after you during our first year of operation. And probably anything else that you ask for, because we'll be really, really grateful.

Want to hold a benefit show, invite us to talk to your group, or otherwise raise money for worker-owned cooperatives in Carbondale? We'd love that, and we'd be happy to speak to any group and provide information about the project. Send us an email at [email redacted] to discuss the details.

Our Interim Team

We are the team responsible for getting the Fat Patties Worker Cooperative off the ground. In the coming months, we will be hiring more worker-owners, developing our cooperative model in consultation with experts in the field of cooperative businesses, and creating a board to manage our Cooperative Business Fund. Be on the lookout for updates soon!

Jesa Brooks - A founding collective member at Tamarack restaurant and bar  in Oakland, CA, Jesa is our cooperative business consultant. Jesa's work with Tamarack was recently featured in the San Francisco Chronicle, and the Fat Patties Collective will be learning from their experience setting up a successful worker-owner model.

Beau Henson - Our resident economic developer, Beau was trained at the Delta Leadership Institute and graduated from Georgetown University. He is currently the Carbondale Spring's lead organizer for the Cooperative Business Fund. Beau also sits on the City of Carbondale Planning and Zoning Commission. 

Clare Killman - Carbondale Spring organizer and social media coordinator, Clare has been working in the Midwest for the past 6 years as a collegiate lecturer, public speaker, and philanthropist. Clare sits on the board of the Conversion Therapy Dropout Network, an L.A.-based nonprofit devoted to banning conversion therapy as a practice nationwide. 

Nick Smaligo - A long-time activist in Carbondale and an organizer with the Carbondale Spring, Nick is a founding member of the Flyover Social Center and the Carbondale Solidarity Network, and author of the book The Occupy Movement Explained: From Corporate Control to Democracy . He holds a Masters degree in Philosophy from SIU-Carbondale, and has worked at Black Bear Cooperative Bakery in St. Louis, as well as Cristaudo's Cafe and Bakery  in Carbondale. 

... more team members to come!


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Carbondale Spring
Carbondale, IL

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