Income and wealth imbalances are getting bigger. There was a study done that found that every new tech worker in the Bay Area creates five low-wage service jobs – someone to clean their house, take care of their kids, cook food in restaurants, drive them around. So we’ve got the high-wage people, who are not only much higher in wages, but also much higher in wealth. And then we’ve got everybody else. That’s our economy right now.
Meanwhile, privately owned local businesses that have historically been an incredibly important part of our economy and communities are disappearing. On the consumer side: cafes replaced by Starbucks, food stores replaced by chain restaurants, barber shops turned Supercuts. On the business to business side, private equity and publicly-traded companies have been buying up whole sectors. So this middle part of the economy where opportunity has historically been available is shrinking rapidly.
We’re working to make business ownership accessible to the average worker via employee ownership – either employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs) or worker-owned cooperatives. Both structures support businesses where decisions are being made through the lens of what’s good for employees – and their families and communities by extension. We see this as a critical wealth-building strategy – business ownership is the second-most important way that families build wealth in the United States, following home ownership.
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