Cleveland’s Greater University Circle, home to three major Ohio institutions, employs some 50,000 people in health care and academia. It’s an economic engine for the region—with one major omission. Most of the 43,000 people who live in adjacent neighborhoods are mired in poverty, with household income averaging $18,500.

Evergreen Cooperatives of Cleveland aims to change this picture by developing a network of worker-owned small businesses for Greater University Circle. From doing laundry...

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