- Goal of 2 million new employee-owners field-wide by 2026
Today, Project Equity announced a national call to action for the creation of 2 million new employee-owners by 2026. Right now, almost 3 million businesses in the United States have owners at or near retirement age. Dubbed the “Silver Tsunami,” most retirement-aged business owners have no plans for once they retire. Many of these businesses are in industries that tend to have lower-wage workers and a significant percentage of workers of color.
Helping companies in these industries transition to employee ownership can impact a critical mass of workers and build long-term wealth for working people and Black and Latino families across the nation. Through the Employee Ownership Accelerator Campaign, Project Equity will highlight the fact that employee ownership fortifies businesses, makes local economies more resilient and allows more people to build economic stability across generations.
“The U.S. economy is ready for a new direction to help employees of all income levels build economic security for the future: employee ownership. When employees become owners, they can unlock opportunities to acquire assets and increase their income, while having a voice in the strategic direction of their workplaces,” said Evan Edwards, Project Equity’s CEO. “No matter where we live, what we look like, or where we come from, most of us just want to build a solid future for ourselves and our families. Employee ownership is a powerful tool to help all frontline workers, working people and families from Black and Brown communities build economic security for generations to come.”
Yet even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the working poor made up almost half of the American workforce. In 2019, 44% of all workers qualified as low-income, with median annual earnings of $18,000 and nearly one-third living below the federal poverty line. These households struggle with the basics like paying for transportation, childcare, health care or even just putting food on the table, which is a cycle that pushes families further into poverty. In addition, the National Center for Employee Ownership has shown that employee-owners earn 33% more and have household net worth nearly twice as high as their non-employee owner peers. These increases can mean better outcomes day-to-day and long-term gains like down payments on homes and building retirement.
Prudential Financial is leading the funding effort to launch this campaign with a grant of $500,000 from The Prudential Foundation, building upon their longstanding support of minority-owned small businesses. “Employee ownership is a dynamic business model that creates quality jobs and wealth-building opportunities for low-wage workers and workers of color in regions all across the United States. We know that employee ownership can be a driving force in building generational wealth, helping to replace longstanding racial and gender inequity with tangible, material growth. Employee ownership can help strengthen the U.S. workforce and economy, with more people participating fully in their local economies with the opportunity to acquire assets and increase income. Project Equity is uniquely positioned to drive significant impact through this effort, ” said Sarah Keh, Vice President, Inclusive Solutions of Prudential.
The Employee Ownership Accelerator Campaign is an initiative by Project Equity to raise $30 million over five years in order to influence, drive and support the conditions for the growth of 2 million new employee-owners across the country. As an established thought leader on the benefits of employee ownership, Project Equity will influence public opinion and drive demand across the business landscape for employee ownership transitions through research, direct service, partnerships and access to capital.
Project Equity will provide practical advising, technical assistance, and financing to business owners who want to transition to employee ownership, focusing their direct support on small and medium-sized businesses with a high density of low-income workers and Black and Latino workers throughout diverse regions of the US. They will also partner with municipalities and a range of other partners to retain jobs and rebuild local economies through employee ownership, while advocating for legislation that engages local, state, and federal governments to embed and normalize employee ownership across the country.
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