CDI staff members Rob Brown and Jonah Fertig recently testified before the Maine legislature on the importance of a bill that would improve the state’s support for co-op and employee-owned businesses. Below, Rob shares his thoughts on why this is bill is of critical importance.
Given that co-ops keep money in communities and improve job security, it’s a good thing that support for cooperative development keeps on growing! And now, the Maine Legislature is debating LD 1300, An Act To Create and Sustain Jobs through Cooperative and Employee Owned Business Development. (Read about why co-op development is crucial for Maine and the rest of the country.) This innovative, bipartisan legislation would make Maine a national leader in providing financial and technical assistance to cooperative and employee-owned businesses.
For new and existing cooperative and employee owned business, LD 1300 would:
- Improve access to numerous public loan and grant funds
- Improve awareness, education and training among state and local economic development officials
- Create a matching grant fund for feasibility studies for businesses considering conversion to employee ownership, and
- Create a tax incentive for business owners who sell their business to their employees
Co-operators and advocates, including CDI staff and board members, have been organizing support for this legislation and have gotten the media to take notice. We also testified in favor of this bill and have been educating policymakers about the substantial benefits and unique needs of cooperative and employee owned businesses. Regardless of what happens to the legislation, this has been a great effort to raise awareness of a growing cooperative economy in Maine!
In case you missed it: Listen to Rob, Jonah, and another CDI staff member, Jessica Pooley, discuss on a podcast how the co-op movement is growing, and why we should support its further growth through legislation.