The PaCEO Holds Press Conference for EO Month and New Bill
On October 26, 2022, Pennsylvania celebrated Employee Ownership Month with a press conference in the Capitol Rotunda in Harrisburg. The celebration included a citation honoring the nonprofit Pennsylvania Center for Employee Ownership (PaCEO), but more importantly, it included the formal introduction of PA House Bill HB-2888, establishing a Pennsylvania Office of Employee Ownership, and the introduction of the Pennsylvania Employee Ownership Assistance Act.
The bill, if passed, would create an Office of Employee Ownership within the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) whose charge is to actively raise awareness about the benefits of employee ownership, and provide informational, technical, and financial assistance to new and existing employee-owned companies throughout the Commonwealth. The bill is the bipartisan work of Rep. Sara Innamorato (D-Allegheny), Rep. Greg Rothman (R-Cumberland), and the PaCEO. It has been assigned to the House Commerce Committee for deliberation. The bill is designed to promote and help establish employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs), worker cooperatives, employee ownership trusts (EOTs), as well as “other employee ownership organizations” as determined by the secretary of the DCED.
The bill would also create a “Pennsylvania Employee Ownership Advocate.” This is a gubernatorial appointment, reporting directly to the governor, who will be responsible for budgeting in a series of specific areas, including loans, loan guarantees, and grants (for smaller enterprises). Further, the Advocate will be responsible to ensure that the DCED is thoroughly completing the requirements of the Act and determining additional legislation necessary to enhance and advance employee ownership within Pennsylvania.
At the press conference in the Rotunda last week, many elected officials, employee-owners, and employee ownership advocates attended to support the legislation and focus on a unique and critical issue: bipartisanship. Members of the General Assembly from both sides of the aisle took the opportunity to emphasize the bipartisan nature of not just this bill but of employee ownership as a whole. You can watch the entire press conference below.
In the past five years, Pennsylvania has been a leader among states in advancing employee ownership. In 2015, Pennsylvania was in the middle ranking of states in creating new employee-owners, yet over the past five years, based on the latest U.S. Department of Labor Form 5500 data, they have been second in the nation, behind only California, with three times the population. And in a recent ranking by Certified EO, Pennsylvania has three cities in the top 25 cities in the U.S. for employee ownership (Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, and York), with Harrisburg ranking third in the nation.
Separately, the PaCEO has created the nation’s first citywide task force on employee ownership, which in the first quarter of 2023, in conjunction with Pittsburgh city government and Chatham University, will educate 30,000 businesses on the value and benefits of employee ownership. This city-supported effort will also include coordination with 30 Pittsburgh community groups, who will hold informational sessions conducted by the PaCEO to introduce all forms of employee ownership to the neighborhoods and districts in Pittsburgh.
It is a genuinely exciting time for employee ownership in Pennsylvania, with much work to do and much hope for a better future for all.