Converting Businesses to Cooperatives Just Got Easier
“Passing it onto a co-op means that we still get to pass that tribal knowledge on,” Adams said.
In early 2017, the pair reached out to Project Equity, a nonprofit organization that helps businesses convert to employee-ownership. That model made sense for Adams & Chittenden, whose employees were career glass blowers, not laborers in unskilled jobs.
Project Equity was at the time finalizing its Accelerate Employee Ownership initiative, a collaboration launched in September with the Shared Capital Cooperative, a national loan fund that provides financing to cooperative businesses and housing in the United States.
The initiative aims to lower barriers for businesses converting to employee-owned models by providing access to individuals and organizations who are experienced in co-op conversions, and to lenders familiar with cooperative business models. The initiative is seeded with $5 million from Quality Jobs Fund, an initiative by the New World Foundation and the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco that invests in projects committed to improving quality job opportunities for workers in historically underserved areas. It aims to perform 30 conversions and maintain quality employment for more than 1,000 individuals over the next 10 years in California, Nevada and Arizona. The initiative also focuses on the positive ripple effects employee ownership can have in a community.