Portland Buy Local invited Rob Brown, director of CDI’s Business Ownership Solutions (BOS), to be the guest speaker at a brown bag luncheon on Thursday, September 7, at the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce. Over 30 business owners and advisors came to learn about converting a business to employee ownership and hear stories about Maine businesses that had converted to worker cooperatives.
Maine has thousands of baby boomer business owners who will need to retire in the next decade or so and few of them have concrete succession plans. What is going to happen to these businesses? Who is going to buy them and sustain the jobs and services those communities have relied on?
Rob gave an overview of these challenges, how they could negatively impact our economy and communities, and made the case for conversion to employee ownership as a strategy to address them. The presentation covered the basic steps of the conversion process and the characteristics of businesses that make a good candidate for conversion.
We also discussed what policy makers could do to better support broadening ownership in Maine, including a bill (LD 1338) currently being considered by the legislature that would incentivize the conversion of business assets to cooperative or employee ownership, and reduce the cost of financing the sale.
Business Ownership Solutions is a program of the Cooperative Development Institute working to promote employee ownership conversion as a uniquely beneficial model of development and assisting business owners and employees in the conversion process.
You can read more about how cooperative and employee ownership can help Maine address many challenges in our new Maine Policy Review article, Owning Maine’s Future: Fostering a Cooperative Economy in Maine.