October 20, 2020

Colorado Creates Employee Ownership Center

Colorado has become the most recent state to create a state employee ownership center. Governor Jared Polis has created the Employee Ownership Office as a standalone center in the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT). The office will have its own dedicated staff. It has $1.75 million in funding over the next two years.

The office will operate an “Employee Ownership Navigator” to provide advice to business owners about ownership models, as well as to connect them to local approved advisors.  

The office will also offer a new certification for companies that provide ownership to 20% or more of workers. The companies will be included in statewide branding campaigns and will be listed on its website.

Finally, the office, which received $1.75 million in funding last year for a two-year period, will continue offering a loan program to support employee ownership conversions as well as grants to help pay for setup costs. The loan program has already been happening through OEDIT. 

Fourteen state employee ownership centers, some funded in part by government and others entirely by donations and services, are now in various stages of operation. You can learn more about them at the Employee Ownership Expansion Network, a nonprofit devoted to helping create the centers.

State centers can be enormously helpful in increasing the number and quality of employee-owned companies. If you are interested in working to make this idea more common, approaching your state legislator with a proposal is worth the effort. Given the bipartisan nature of the idea and the compelling need for it with so many baby boomers retiring, you may find that just explaining why a state needs to do this to a state legislator may yield results. The NCEO has a paper to help support this approach. For details on state centers, contact Tim Garbinsky at tgarbinsky@nceo.org.