Next City – Can Employee Ownership Preserve Legacy Businesses in Communities of Color?

From Next City:

Philadelphia and other cities across the U.S. face an impending wave of small business upheaval as Baby Boomer-era owners reach and pass retirement age. The majority of those owners have no clear succession plan, nor do they have a new generation ready and willing to assume ownership.

As this “silver tsunami” approaches, one emerging strategy to prevent an exodus of community-anchored businesses and wealth is to transfer ownership to employees. The idea gained some momentum with the 2018 passage of the federal bipartisan Main Street Employee Ownership Act, which promises employee-owned businesses easier access to Small Business Administration assistance and loans.

Employee ownership can take various forms: It could mean a simple sale to a group of employees who know the business well. For larger firms, adopting a more complex Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) allows employees to reap some equity upon leaving the company. But the best way to broaden ownership, in the long run, could come from the worker cooperative model, which provides workers with both ownership and democratic control of the business.

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