Realizing the Full Potential of Employee Ownership
For many owners of privately held small and medium-sized firms, succession is a real problem. Too many owners lack a real plan for how they and their family can access the wealth they’ve built while making sure the jobs they created for their communities stay there. Employee ownership is an ideal solution—one that benefits workers and communities by avoiding the asset-stripping and layoffs that can too often accompany acquisition scenarios, and which also benefits retiring owners, by unlocking the substantial tax benefits associated with selling a business to your employees.
But this win-win solution isn’t reaching enough businesses, in enough time, to make the difference it could. Employee ownership transitions can be complex and time-consuming, especially when an owner is starting from scratch in terms of what they know about how and why these work. Owners of some companies, especially smaller ones, may find the technical and legal details unfamiliar and overwhelming. Some prevalent strategies for owner-financed transitions to employee ownership may seem too slow or uncertain. And while employee ownership is a proven solution with a track record that’s helped millions of Americans build wealth in their workplace, there’s often no one on the scene with a vested interest in advancing that option when an owner is ready to sell. In cases like this, exiting owners are likely to opt for one of the other exit options on the table.
We believe that with an actively managed fund, using our Acquire, Convert & Support strategy, we can make a difference, closing the loop more quickly and more efficiently between owners looking to exit and employees looking to begin building wealth via profit sharing. Drawing on our deep expertise in managing the Evergreen Cooperative network, we can bring to bear a strategy that dramatically accelerates employee ownership transitions.
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Helping Workers Build Wealth
There’s more to helping employees of businesses become owners than just providing the funding needed to finance such a transition. A key part of the Fund’s work is identifying businesses that are set up for continued success, and making sure that when these businesses are sold, the price is fair to both the exiting owners and to their employees. These valuations are the cornerstone of our work as a mission-driven, nonprofit fund.
We also ensure that employees have the technical tools they need to excel as owners. Part of this means leveraging our national network of employee-ownership experts to choose the employee-owned business form that makes the most sense for the business scale and sector. But it also means using over a decade of on-the-ground experience running real businesses as worker cooperatives to deliver the training and guidance that can build a real culture of successful employee ownership.
A foundation for accelerated growth in quality jobs
Our investments are mission-driven, and that mission is making sure everyone in our communities has a chance to thrive in a quality job and build wealth. When we look to acquire and convert businesses, we do so with an eye toward finding ones that will add value not just to our fund, but to the community the businesses call home. Our goal is to create a network of businesses that are linked together for mutual aid and long-term benefit, a network that creates opportunities for employee-ownership in every community.
By graduating acquired companies into the Evergreen network, we ensure that these employee-owned jobs remain employee-owned for the long haul, and set them up with the peer support and connections that allow them to scale and succeed. We also are able to help newly employee-owned companies to leverage the systems for inclusive hiring and financial empowerment that have helped give hundreds of workers at Evergreen a pathway out of poverty and unemployment.
Investing in the Future of Your Community
We’re serious about making sure that employee ownership scales to the place it should be, and that means deploying our fund’s resources in a place-based way to build towards a truly critical mass. It means creating opportunities to grow the resources of the fund through new investments, leveraging both market-rate and impact-driven capital. It means that we use these resources wisely to unlock the larger funding necessary for bigger employee ownership transitions. And it means working with partners in the philanthropic community and local government to help make our work and the resources we steward as effective as possible.
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