Project Equity approached Kline and the City of Fremont with a plan to both understand the threat they faced with ageing business owners and also to help get the word out that there that employee ownership could be a viable succession plan for them. “We talk to a lot of businesses to try to dispel some of the myths they might have heard about employee ownership,” says Alison Lingane, who co-founded Project Equity in 2014. “We’re excited to work with the City of Fremont to try and have real conversations with business owners and get this option on the menu so that existing owners can make informed decisions about the future of their business. We know employee ownership isn’t for everyone, but it’s a great place to start.”
When Lingane and her team surveyed the manufacturing and supply chain sector in Fremont, they found that nearly 40% of the businesses were more than 20 years old—a good predictor that many of the owners of those businesses might be at the age to consider retirement and ready to put a succession plan in place.