Since 2018, CDS has been creating an eco-system to support the conversion of small businesses to employee ownership via worker-owned cooperatives. Our partners include Shared Capital Cooperative as our finance and lending partner; our community education partners include the University of Minnesota Business Retention and Expansion program, and the University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives. CDS provides business analysis and technical assistance to the conversion process.
To grow awareness of employee ownership strategies, our team delivered the Worker Ownership Roadshow in March 2020, visiting eight communities in western WI and eastern MN and attended by about 100 local business and community development leaders, bankers, and business owners. Participants scored our workshops highly, uniformly affirming our assumptions about the lack of adequate business succession planning and identifying their increased knowledge about worker ownership strategies in general, and worker co-ops specifically. We intend to offer more such workshops in the region and to create new presentations describing the process to be used by employers and employees in the transition process, as well as the unique interests of lenders. We have received requests for assistance from a couple businesses and anticipate more. Ultimately, we will create a venue for worker co-ops in the region to gather for mutual self-help. All of this will require staff time and some travel. We look forward to the conversations and would value your support as well.
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