2019 Community Impact Awards, Business of the Year: Central Co-op

Plus: Silver Award winner Tableau Software Inc.
COOPERATIVE SPIRIT: Central Co-op CEO Catherine Willis Cleveland says her commitment to “cooperative values” was cultivated in her youth and remains intergral to her life.

This article appears in print in the November 2019 issue. See more about the winners of the 2019 Community Impact Awards here. Click here for a free subscription.

Central Co-op

Central Co-op has become an economic driver while also maintaining its commitment to community.

The 41-year-old community-owned natural foods cooperative, which has more than 14,000 active owners, recorded nearly $25 million in revenue last year while returning 74% of that back to the community. An economic impact study also reveals that it pumps $8 million annually into the state economy.

Last year, the average wage for Central Co-op employees was $21.68 per hour, 27% higher than the statewide average. Four years ago, it became the first grocery store in the nation to pay full-time entry-level workers $15 per hour, plus benefits.

It also was recently honored with both a Sustainability Leadership Award and a Heart of Seattle Award, which celebrate organizations with strong commitments to environmental and social efforts. It donated $25,000 in need-based discounts to customers last year and about 20,000 pounds of food.

Central Co-op merged with Tacoma Food Co-op in 2016 and opened its first store outside Seattle in Tacoma this past June. Another big milestone happened in March, when it named Catherine Willis Cleveland its chief executive officer.

“When I was growing up my mother coordinated a cooperative produce-buying club off our front porch,” Willis says. “I have carried those cooperative values with me ever since.”

Silver Award

Tableau Software Inc.

Tableau Software Inc. believes data can solve homelessness. The company, which was recently purchased by Salesforce.com for $15.7 billion, is working hard to tackle Seattle’s homelessness problem. The company in 2015 began working closely with government officials by offering its data-analytics tools to give officials the information they need to adjust policies, fund programs, test interventions and identify emerging problems. The Tableau Foundation is donating more than $1.3 million in software, services and financial support to help eliminate veteran and chronic homelessness in more than 50 communities across the United States by 2025.

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