A “no hassle” form of employee ownership

by Karen Kahn

The Employee Ownership Trust (EOT) is a relatively new concept in the United States, though it is a popular form of employee ownership in the United Kingdom. An EOT may be structured with a perpetual purpose trust managed by a trustee board and trust protector, similar to an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), but it is not a retirement plan. In an EOT, employees of the firm share in the firm’s profits on an ongoing basis; they don’t have to wait until leaving the firm to reap the benefits of ownership.


Teaching faculty, researchers, and the public can access the Curriculum Library for Employee Ownership (CLEO)

by Adria Scharf

Over the years, scholars have generated an enormous amount of evidence suggesting that employee ownership can strengthen firm performance, firm survival, and job stability, and improve employee economic well-being. Rutgers University’s School of Management and Labor Relations’ Curriculum Library for Employee Ownership (CLEO) now organizes and makes this large body of research-informed information accessible to researchers, teaching faculty, and the public.

CLEO is an online library of scholarly research and teaching materials on employee share ownership, featuring more than 600 resources — including company case studies, links to research articles, and policy reports. …


Taylor Guitars converts to 100 percent employee ownership with unique finance partner

by Karen Kahn

On January 11, 2021, in a video for employees, Taylor Guitars announced that it had transitioned to 100 percent employee ownership. An agreement that could be called the NAFTA of employee ownership, it is majority funded by Canada’s Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan, with additional capital from Social Capital Partners, and establishes the first US-based Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) for Mexican workers.

Founded in 1974 by Bob Taylor and Kurt Listug, Taylor Guitars today is a global leader in guitar manufacturing. A company with $122 million in revenue, with some 1,200 employees in Southern California and over the border…


New hotline spurring interest in employee ownership conversions

By Karen Kahn

Brooklyn Stone and Tile converted to a worker cooperative, with the assistance of NYC’s Worker Cooperative Business Development Initiative.

In December 2020, after nearly a year of living with the COVID-19 pandemic, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Employee Ownership NYC, the nation’s largest municipal investment in transitioning businesses to employee ownership. New York is the first city in the country to put employee ownership at the center of its economic recovery strategy.

The Racial Wealth Gap
“Our goal is to close the racial wealth gap,” says Christine Curella, senior policy advisor to Deputy Mayor Phil Thompson, who has made building a more inclusive economy central to his portfolio. …


Employee-owned firms continue to demonstrate resiliency during pandemic

by Karen Kahn

As the pandemic upends local economies, employee-owned businesses are finding creative ways to stay afloat, proving themselves to be more resilient than conventionally owned businesses. The strategies employee-owned businesses are using to flourish during the pandemic is just one of many topics discussed by scholars at the Mid-Year Fellows Workshop in Honor of Louis O. Kelso sponsored by the Rutgers Institute for the Study of Employee Ownership and Profit Sharing January 9–10, 2021.

The annual symposium is an opportunity for academics and practitioners to share research related to broad-based forms of capital ownership and capital income, including employee ownership trusts…


Researchers examine what is needed for successful business to cooperative conversions

By Karen Kahn

Quebec’s cooperative ambulance service has over 160 members, including 147 paramedics.

What strategies can we use to build an economy that puts people and planet first? Canada is asking this question and proposing answers that might be helpful to those in the U.S. driving efforts to grow mission-driven and employee-owned enterprises.

Like the U.S., Canada faces a business succession crisis that has been accelerated by COVID-19. The government would like to accelerate what the Canadians call “social acquisitions for business recovery” — i.e., relaunching local businesses that may be closing (as a result of the recession or retirement) as social purpose organizations: mission-driven organizations “aiming to achieve a…


Filling the finance gap to accelerate employee ownership

by Karen Kahn

Founded in 2001, Social Capital Partners (SCP) is a Canadian nonprofit organization that seeks to use finance to broaden economic opportunity. After years of focusing on improving job opportunities for those facing employment barriers in Canada, it has now turned its attention to capital ownership, the root of growing wealth inequality in Canada and around the globe.

In a recent interview, Jon Shell, who leads the nonprofit with founder Bill Young, spoke with me about SCP’s growing interest in employee ownership as a means to address the wealth divide. Though we think of wealth inequality as a uniquely American phenomenon…


Local holding companies could help save small businesses and create a more equitable economy

by Karen Kahn

As the Biden transition team develops its plan for economic recovery, it is considering an idea first proposed by The Democracy Collaborative (TDC): Local Economy Preservation Funds. Upon request, TDC and Council for Development Finance Agencies (CDFA) have submitted a concept paper to the transition team. CDFA is a national association of state, county, and municipal development finance agencies and authorities as well as nongovernmental entities involved in development finance.

As COVID-19 surges all across the nation, over 3 million…


Co-op Cincy looks to sustain local businesses and jobs

By Karen Kahn

According to Roy Messing at the Ohio Employee Ownership Center at Kent State, even before the pandemic, “5500 Southwest Ohio businesses were at risk of closing due to a lack of a viable succession plan.” With COVID-19 having pushed the U.S. economy into recession, many more small businesses are at risk of closure. That could lead to a significant loss of jobs that would further undermine the region’s economy.

In the face of these pressures, the nonprofit cooperative incubator Co-op Cincy is partnering with SEED Commons, a national financial cooperative, to create the Business Legacy Fund, a multimillion dollar continuity…


New report calls for broadening employee ownership, among other recommendations

By Karen Kahn

The American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC) has released a comprehensive set of recommendations for creating an economy that works for all. As Jeffrey Hollender, CEO of ASBC, and Maya Fano-Caroti, ASBC policy assistant, write in the preface of the new report, the COVID-19 crisis has laid bare the truth: “our current system of capitalism does not work for most Americans.”

A May 2020 JUST Capital/Harris Poll confirmed that the vast majority of Americans agree: 75 percent of respondents indicated they believe “our current form of capitalism doesn’t ensure the greater good of society.”

Fifty by Fifty: Employee Ownership News

Working to grow employee ownership in the U.S. to 50 million by 2050. Learn more at http://fiftybyfifty.org and http://medium.com/fifty-by-fifty

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