February 11, 2020

House Committee Holds Hearings on Employee Ownership in Small Businesses

On February 12, the House Committee on Small Business will hold a hearing titled "Challenges and Benefits of Employee-Owned Small Businesses." The hearing, which will begin at 11:30 am, will be live-streamed. [Update on February 12: that link now goes to a committee page that includes a link to a video recording of the hearing.]

Witnesses from ESOP companies and worker cooperatives will talk about the experience of employee ownership in their companies and the companies they work with. The hearing will also cover the Main Street Employee Ownership Act and its regulatory implementation. Although the intent of the legislation was to encourage the Small Business Administration to guarantee loans supporting conversions to employee ownership and to provide direct outreach to encourage employee ownership, its implementation has disappointed many employee ownership advocates. 

The background memo for the hearing notes (page 6) that the hearing will cover "Congress’ charge to ensure the federal agencies who deliver capital access programs do not discriminate against certain business[es] based solely on their ownership structure. Because these businesses have been proven to be a net positive on local economies and creating real wage growth for workers, it is incumbent upon Congress and the federal agencies it oversees to make it easier, not harder, for businesses to operate in an employee-owned model."