CommunityEnterpriseLaw is a project of the Sustainable Economies Law Center, and a resource library of legal tools to help support community-owned economies.

Our Community Law Library takes a broad look at laws on forming and financing community-based entities, as well as the legal issues surrounding employment, land, and housing.

Our Enterprise Blog provides analysis of new laws and policies, as well as community enterprise case studies and nuggets of legal wisdom. If you are a policymaker, take a look at our City Policies page under the “Learn More” links.

Through education and advocacy, the Community Enterprise Law Project seeks to adapt existing laws and implement legal policies that support people’s ownership, both on paper and in practice, in the wealth existing in their communities.

What is a community-owned economy?

Traditional economic development models focus on attracting business and real estate investments from outside of a community. The unfortunate result is that wealth leaves the community, rather than remaining available for the community’s benefit.

In a community-owned economy, community members have access to ownership interests in local businesses and real estate and local workers participate in the governance and growth of the enterprises in and affecting their communities.

Don’t Know Where to Start? Here is a Roadmap!

Entrepreneurs: Not sure what legal entity to choose for your community enterprise? Start here! Want to use interns or independent contractors? Read this! Want to raise capital for your enterprise and want to start with the basics? Check this out!

Attorneys: Want to learn more about the law governing capital raising? Start with the Securities Law Primer! Need to know more about employment law? Start here! Want to learn more about how to form cooperatives? Check out!

Investors: Are you new to investing locally and want to learn the basics? Start here! Check back soon for more about how you can move your money out of Wall Street invest in Main street by self-directing your retirement funds.

IMPORTANT! PLEASE READ: Community Enterprise Law was created by the Sustainable Economies Law Center (Law Center) to provide a forum for sharing, organizing, and making sense of information related to the laws relevant to building resilient communities. The information on this website is not legal advice, and should absolutely not be taken as true or accurate, especially because this is a collaborative space in which many people are contributing ideas and information. The Law Center does not have the capacity to monitor all information shared in this space, and therefore cannot attest to the quality and accuracy of the information. In addition, information on this page could become outdated, and laws vary from place to place. Finally, and most importantly, we’d like to repeat that the information contained here is NOT LEGAL ADVICE. Anyone who uses this website should verify this information independently and seek independent legal counsel before relying on any of this information. If you have read this entire paragraph, congratulations and thank you! Now you are warmed up and ready to dive into our resources!