Join us for a webinar to learn about the five stages of transition for business conversions to employee ownership. This event is designed for business owners, economic developers, business support professionals, and workers interested in learning more about worker cooperatives.
A generation of American business owners is retiring yet many lack a plan to transition their business to new ownership and leadership. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2016, more than 110,000 Minnesota and Wisconsin businesses with employees were owned by people 55 years or older. The threat to local economies if these businesses are not retained is loss of jobs, income and quality of life. Rural communities can be especially at risk since retaining home-grown businesses is often the most practical approach for economic development.
The idea of employee ownership, particularly in the form of worker cooperatives, may be a possible solution for many business transitions. Becoming employee-owned can keep a business’ doors open, save jobs and enable it to continue being a valued part of the community. It is a triple-win solution for the owner, the employees and the community. Surprisingly, very few companies take advantage of this option; there are fewer than 7,500 employee owned companies in the U.S. (out of millions of employer firms). Most of these are ESOPs (Employee Stock Ownership Plans) yet worker cooperatives are a more viable and practical option for businesses of fewer than 100 employees.
Courtney Berner, of the University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives, will provide practical information, case studies and resource ideas. She will be joined by her colleague Esther West as well as Kevin Edberg of Cooperative Development Services and Michael Darger, of the UofMN Extension.