Why Choose Employee Ownership
- With One in Six Jobs at Risk, How Do We Turn Lemons into Lemonade
- Employee Ownership: A Triple Win Solution
- Legacy Business: Our opportunity to build wealth, economy, and culture
Introduction to Employee Ownership Structures
Introduction to ESOPs and EOTs
- “Employee Ownership: Building a Better American Economy”
- “Using an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) for Business Continuity in a Closely Held Company”
- An Introduction to Employee Ownership Trusts (EOTs)
Introduction to Cooperatives
Succession Planning and Transitioning to Employee Ownership
- DAWI, UWCC – Successful Cooperative Ownership Transitions
- DAWI — Becoming Employee Owned
- Project Equity—Small Business Closure Crisis
- ICA Group – Ensuring Your Legacy: Succession Planning & Democratic Employee Ownership
- OEOC – An Owners Guide to Business Succession Planning
FIELD BUILDING ORGANIZATIONS
The organizations in this section are leading national organizations supporting worker cooperatives, ESOPs, and other democratic workplaces with a wide range of educational resources, technical assistance, and consulting services. We encourage you to check out their resources by visiting their websites.
Building a national network of hybrid, shared ownership, regional and municipal ecosystems starting with unionized worker-owned cooperative businesses to overcome structural inequalities of opportunity, mobility, and income.
Located at UC San Diego’s Rady School of Management, the Beyster Institute works to advance the understanding and practice of employee ownership as an effective and responsible business model. It focuses on education, research and consulting to promote employee ownership and the creation of effective ownership cultures.
Building an employee-owned economy, by creating national recognition for employee ownership and publicizing the benefits that employee-owned companies offer to working people, customers, and local communities.
Expanding the worker cooperative model into communities most directly affected by social and economic inequality, specifically people of color, recent immigrants, and low-wage workforces. An arm of the U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives, DAWI has an excellent resource center, produces original research on the cooperative sector, and provides technical assistance, educational programing, and consulting for cooperative businesses.
Working to catalyze a movement with the knowledge, resources, and skills to grow the number of employee owners in the U.S. from 10 million to 50 million American 2050. An initiative of The Democracy Collaborative, Fifty by Fifty is aimed at creating a more inclusive economy through employee ownership.
• National Center for Employee Ownership
A nonprofit membership organization supporting employee ownership since 1981, NCEO generates original research, facilitates the exchange of best practices, writes and disseminates publications by field experts, and helps employee ownership companies build ownership cultures where employees think and act like owners.
Helps businesses and communities discover the power of employee ownership, by partnering with municipalities to identify legacy businesses, educate business owners about employee ownership, and support conversions for interested business owners.
A leading expert on worker ownership and the oldest national organization dedicated to the development of worker cooperatives, ICA provides consulting services to states, municipalities, and cooperative businesses or businesses considering converting to cooperative ownership.
• U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives
A national grassroots membership organization for worker cooperatives, USFWC advances worker-owned, -managed, and -governed workplaces through cooperative education, advocacy and development.
• University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives
With a strong public service orientation, UWCC leverages research, education, and outreach capabilities to foster critical thinking and understanding about cooperatives.
• Workers to Owners Collaborative
A national collaborative of organizations working to convert small businesses to worker- and employee-ownership by engaging with companies, places, and governments.
• National Cooperative Business Association CLUSA International
The primary voice for U.S. cooperative businesses, NCBA CLUSA International develops, advances, and protects cooperative enterprises.
The ESOP Association represents the interests of corporations that sponsor employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs) and provides advocacy and educational services on behalf of its members. Look for your state chapter.
• Employee-Owned S Corporations of America (ESCA)
ESCA is the lobby organization for employee-owned S corporations (“S ESOPs”) among policymakers in Washington, DC. Represents nearly 215,000 employee-owners in all 50 states.
TECHNICAL ADVISING AND CONSULTING
For ESOPs, NCEO has a comprehensive service provider directory on its website, with over 300 providers from all around the country.
For worker cooperatives, the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives provides a searchable directory of service providers.
COOPERATIVE DEVELOPMENT ORGANIZATIONS
At the state and local level, there are multiple cooperative development organizations, including governmental, nonprofit, and cooperative organizations. Rather than trying to list them all here, we provide links to two resource lists through which to identify organizations and support networks in your area.
The Center of Excellence for cooperative business development, CW is a dynamic and innovative national cooperative created to grow the cooperative model across the U.S. To find a cooperative development organization near you, you can go to: https://cooperationworks.coop/member-locator/#map
• Sustainable Economies Law Center
The SELC provides essential legal tools — education, research, advice, and advocacy — so communities everywhere can develop their own sustainable sources of food, housing, energy, jobs, and other vital aspects of a thriving community. For cooperatives, its cooplaw.org resource provides legal information, best practices, and supporting tools, including a national list of cooperative development and support organizations.
The role of capital is critical in scaling employee ownership. Recent work on this subject includes a proposal for creating private-equity-like funds from Transform Finance and a Guidelines for Equitable Employee Ownership Transitions, a document developed through field-wide collaboration under the leadership of Jessica Rose from Fifty by Fifty and Hilary Irby from Soros Fund Management.
Below we include Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) that specifically finance cooperative development and growth, loan funds, and private equity funds financing ESOP conversions.
Loan Funds and CDFIs
• Baltimore Roundtable for Economic Democracy
A member of SEED Commons, the BRED loan fund helps worker coops in the greater Baltimore area get the (nonextractive) capital needed to start and grow. Financing is paired with technical assistance and cooperative mentoring.
• Capital Impact Partners (CDFI)
Capital Impact Partners provides access to capital for projects, including cooperatives, in underinvested areas that are often overlooked by traditional banks.
• Cooperative Fund of New England (CDFI)
The Cooperative Fund of New England works for economic, social, and racial justice by advancing community based, cooperative, and democratically owned or managed enterprises by: Providing financial products at reasonable rates; developing business skills; and offering an investment opportunity that promotes socially conscious enterprise.
• Detroit Community Wealth Fund
A nonextractive loan fund supporting cooperatives in the Detroit area.
• Local Enterprise Assistance Fund (CDFI)
LEAF’s mission is to promote human and economic development by providing financing and development assistance to cooperatives and social purpose ventures that create and save jobs for low-income people. LEAF’s development services are provided through partnerships with a range of sector-specific organizations, including other CDFIs, The ICA Group, ROC USA National Coop Grocers, The Food Co-op Initiative, and the Alternative Staffing Alliance.
A 40-year-old institution, the National Cooperative Bank is mandated to serve cooperatives and low-income communities.
• Shared Capital Cooperative (CDFI)
Shared Capital Cooperative is a national CDFI loan fund that connects co-ops and capital to build economic democracy. Working with capital invested by the cooperative sector and its allies, we provide financing for the expansion and startup of cooperatively-owned businesses and housing throughout the United States.
Seed Commons is a national network of locally rooted, non-extractive loan funds that brings the power of big finance under community control. By taking guidance from the grassroots and sharing capital and resources to support local cooperative businesses, we are building the infrastructure necessary for a truly just, democratic and sustainable new economy.
• The Working World (CDFI)
The Working World builds cooperative businesses in low-income communities, using a groundbreaking model that combines non-extractive finance with tailor-made business support.
Endeavour Capital is a private equity firm that invests in Western U.S. based, middle market companies in partnership with founders, family owners and managers. It has financed ESOP transactions.
• Fund for Employee Ownership, Evergreen Cooperatives
This new mission-driven, nonprofit fund launched Nov. 2018 aims to create quality jobs through employee ownership, anchor wealth in NE Ohio, and generate value for investors. It will be a closed-end fund acquiring companies, converting them to EO, and supporting them through an ongoing network. The fund builds on the success of the Evergreen Cooperatives network of firms. The fund could later go national.
• Fund for Jobs Worth Owning, ICA Group
The Fund for Jobs Worth Owning supports the growth and development of employee-owned businesses while creating and sustaining jobs worth owning. Administered by the ICA Group, a leading expert on employee ownership, the Fund designs capital solutions for employee-owned businesses and provides financing for businesses transitioning to employee ownership.
• Inclusive Capitalism Fund, American Working Capital
The Inclusive Capitalism Fund’s focus is on creating positive social impact via broad-based employee ownership, while generating attractive current returns and substantial capital gains — using AWC’s established reputation in ESOP financing and co-investing with family offices and institutional investors. AWC plans to raise $200 million for the fund.
Long Point Capital is a private equity firm providing financing solutions for new and existing ESOPS.
A new venture born out of the devastating effects of COVID-19, the Main Street Phoenix Project works with its partners to make investments into main street businesses that might otherwise not re-open after the COVID-19 crisis subsides. Eligible businesses and their owners must commit to providing employees with quality jobs now, and to becoming part of an employee-owned firm in the future.
• Middle Bridge Capital Blueprint Fund
MBC, headquartered in Providence, RI, aims to reinvent the standard private equity / leveraged buy-out (LBO) model. The BluePrint Fund provides financing for company buyouts for employee ownership, sources new leadership often internally, and uses in-house ESOP experts to build an ownership culture. All exits are to ESOPs.
Mosaic Capital Partners is a private equity investment firm dedicated to ESOP buyouts.
STATE EMPLOYEE OWNERSHIP CENTERS
Employee Ownership Expansion Network is dedicated to significantly expanding employee ownership in the United States by establishing and supporting a network of independent nonprofit State Centers for Employee Ownership. Below is a list of state centers. Most are independent nonprofit organizations; a few operate out of universities or state government offices.
For an introduction to state strategies, see Promoting Employee Ownership: A Look at the States.
• California Center for Employee Ownership
The California Center for Employee Ownership is an independent not-for-profit corporation educating owners of closely held companies about succession planning and the option of employee ownership.
• Colorado Employee Ownership Network
Housed in the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade, the Employee Ownership Network brings together subject matter experts such as employee-owned businesses, attorneys and economic development experts to promote employee ownership in Colorado.
• Florida Center for Employee Ownership
The Florida Center for Employee Ownership serves as the central hub for information and resources regarding transitioning Florida businesses to an employee ownership model.
• Georgia Center for Employee Ownership
Educating business owners and their advisors about the benefits of employee ownership as an exit strategy for privately held businesses that will preserve jobs and community impacts.
• Indiana Center for Employee Ownership
An independent, nonprofit organization, the center promotes better understanding of the values of employee ownership among business leaders, public officials, employees, members of the media, students, academics/academic institutions, consumers, and other persons and organizations in Indiana.
• Massachusetts Center for Employee Ownership
Funded by the state, the center has contracted with the ICA Group and Working Wealth to promote employee ownership to stakeholders around the state. Minnesota Center for Employee Ownership.
• Michigan Center for Employee Ownership
The Michigan Center for Employee Ownership serves as the central hub for information and resources around employee ownership in Michigan.
• Minnesota Center for Employee Ownership
The Minnesota Center for Employee Ownership serves as the central hub for information and resources around employee ownership in Minnesota.
• New Jersey/New York Center for Employee Ownership
Located at the Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations, NJ/NYCEO promotes better understanding of the values of employee ownership among business leaders, public officials, employees, members of the media, students, teachers, nonprofit leaders, consumers, and other persons and organizations.
• Ohio Employee Ownership Center
A non-profit, university-based program established at Kent State University in 1987 to provide outreach, information, and preliminary technical assistance to Ohio employees and business owners interested in exploring employee ownership.
• North Carolina Employee Ownership Center
The central hub for employee-owned businesses in North Carolina, NCEOC educates business owners and their advisors (lawyers, bankers, accountants, wealth advisors) on the benefits of employee ownership via Employee Stock Ownership Plans, worker cooperatives, and Employee Ownership Trusts.
• Pennsylvania Center for Employee Ownership
A 501(c)3 public benefit corporation, the PaCEO promotes better understanding of the values of employee ownership among business leaders, public officials, employees, members of the media, students, teachers, nonprofit leaders, consumers, and other persons and organizations in Pennsylvania.
• Rocky Mountain Employee Ownership Center
An independent nonprofit working to change the current economic system to a system of inclusion by providing pathways to and advocating for employee ownership. RMEOC raises awareness by consulting directly with business owners, putting on education and training programs and being a contact point with government officials.
• Tennessee Employee Ownership Center
The Tennessee Center for Employee Ownership serves as the central hub for information and resources regarding transitioning Tennessee businesses to an employee ownership model.
• Texas Center for Employee Ownership
The Texas Center for Employee Ownership serves as the central hub for information and resources around employee ownership in Texas.
• Vermont Employee Ownership Center
A statewide nonprofit, VEOC promotes employee ownership in order to broaden capital ownership, deepen employee participation, retain jobs, increase living standards for working families and stabilize communities. It provides information and resources to owners interested in selling their business to employees, employee groups interested in purchasing a business, and entrepreneurs who wish to start a company with broadly shared ownership.