Maine passes legislation, Txemi Cantera Award honors Great Game, and foundations show interest in supporting employee ownership
Maine Considers Employee Ownership Legislation
L.D. 1520, An Act To Create and Sustain Jobs and Encourage Affordable Housing through Development of Cooperatives and Employee-owned Businesses, is moving through the Maine Legislature this session. The Taxation Committee of the House and Senate passed the bill unanimously, and it is now waiting for funding approval from the Appropriations Committee and the governor.
The bill prioritizes lending and grants to employee-owned businesses, businesses transitioning to employee ownership, and start-ups that are substantially owned by all employees. It also asks the Office of Business Development with developing educational programs, assisting firms in doing preliminary feasibility studies, and helping interested firms in obtaining financing.
SRC Holdings Wins International Award for Its Great Game of Business
SRC Holdings Corporation, which in addition to being the country’s oldest “remanufacturer” also developed a leadership system that teaches workers to think like owners, won the 29th annual Txemi Cantera International Prize. An honor awarded in Bilbao, Spain, the prize goes each year “to an organization that supports workers and reinforces the values of cooperation, solidarity, participation and equitable sharing of wealth,” says the Remanufacturing Industries Council.
An employee-owned company, SRC Holdings is known worldwide for its leadership system, The Great Game of Business. The Great Game is an open-book management system that teaches workers to think and act like owners.
“Our Great Game leadership system has been built through our own experiences and in collaboration with thousands of other companies,” said Jack Stack, CEO of SRC, in accepting the award on behalf of the company. “It is the result of opening up our company and our books to our associates. It is the product of teaching our associates to do more than just build great products; we give them the information and the opportunity to build great companies. By doing so, we continue to create a business of businesspeople who can now share wealth and prosperity within their communities around the world.”
SRC Holdings is only the third U.S. organization to win the Txemi prize since its inception in 1991. The others include United Airlines (when it became an ESOP, with 55 percent ownership granted to employees) and to Corey Rosen of the National Center on Employee Ownership.
The Txemi Cantera Award honors the late economist Jose Miguel Cantera Sojo, nicknamed Txemi, for his commitment to creating better places to work. A panel including of members of the Basque government, the Gezki Institute, the Institute for Cooperative Studies at the University of Deusto, and the local Department of Economic Promotion select each year’s winner.
Heartland Challenge Embraced Cooperative Ownership
In issuing its 2020 Heartland Challenge, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation included a new focus on cooperative ownership. While the deadline for submissions is now past, the development is worth noting as it represents yet another foundation beginning to integrate worker ownership into its purview.
The Heartland Challenge program funds entrepreneurship support organizations in Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas. The Heartland Challenge RFP for 2020 – with up to $1.5 million in funding available – will support the planning and implementation of programs to solve challenges faced by entrepreneurs. Among this year’s three opportunities for funding, one is specifically directed at employee ownership. Entrepreneurial support programs were invited to apply to provide “education on models of shared business ownership, including business cooperatives,” for rural entrepreneurs looking at exit strategies.
According to the RFP, rural areas are experiencing rapid aging, depopulation, and a lack of concentrated capital, which is driving conversations around business transitions. “Cooperative ownership models are emerging as promising alternative modes of business transition in rural areas that build broad community wealth, keep businesses (and jobs) alive, and foster new generations of rural entrepreneurs,” explains the Kauffman Foundation.
In response to these trends, the foundation was seeking proposals to pilot or development education programs focused on cooperative business models. Such programs could target existing or prospective entrepreneurs, existing owners interested in succession planning, or current cooperative businesses seeking to grow their businesses.
To learn more about this opportunity (Challenge 2), visit the 2020 Heartland Challenge at https://rfp.kauffman.org/prog/2020_heartland_challenge/