In mid-November, after months of planning with our collaborators, Evergreen Cooperatives launched our Fund for Employee Ownership. This investment fund will leverage capital to strategically acquire businesses in Northeast Ohio and convert them to employee ownership, while supporting them inside the Evergreen family of businesses. You can read the announcement here, and we invite you to learn more about the Fund.
We were heartened by the broad media attention this announcement soon garnered, from national, regional and local outlets, of both the print and electronic variety.
The respected new economy journal Fast Company kicked things off with this incisive look at the fund. The author, assistant editor Eillie Anzilotti, noted that while the fund will focus on its home region at first, there will be a growing interest across the country in this approach to business exits, as many baby boom business owners retire over the next decade. She went on to observe that selling businesses to private equity firms “tend to result in job losses and little economic gains for employees.”
Meanwhile, the widely read Huffington Post couched the story this way in its headline: “One of America’s Poorest Cities has a Radical Plan to Remake Itself.” The article notes that family-owned businesses rarely have succession plans in place, and thus are ripe targets for this approach.
The urbanist publication Next City also weighed in, noting that “the businesses that undergo conversion will be professionally managed but employee-governed.” And a publication that covers the nonprofit sector, Nonprofit Quarterly, noted that recent legislation passed by Congress, The Main Street Employee Ownership Act, may well allow the fund to leverage additional financial support for converting businesses to employee ownership.
Closer to home, our new fund drew the attention of the business weekly, Crain’s Cleveland Business, alternative weekly Scene Magazine and public broadcasting’s Ideastream.
In his widely read blog, Crain’s managing editor Scott Suttell focused on our aim “to buy companies from retiring owners at fair market value to ensure that jobs remain in the community and to give employees the opportunity to share in their company’s success.”
Concluded Scene editor Vince Grzegorek: “The benefits are hard to overstate. Instead of jobs disappearing, or new owners cutting back or moving positions out of state or overseas, they’ll stay right here, and employees will have a stake and share in the profits and success.”