Project Equity and San Francisco Partner to Support Local Small Business Owner Success

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Business owners of the city’s longest-running businesses to benefit from succession planning and introduction to employee ownership

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We are looking forward to partnering with Project Equity to engage businesses in succession planning and employee ownership models so these highly valued businesses and their employees remain part of San Francisco’s communities for generations to come.

Project Equity, a national leader in the movement to harness employee ownership to maintain thriving local business communities and address income and wealth inequality, together with the San Francisco Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD) today announced a partnership to deliver San Francisco’s small business owners with a business succession support program. The new business succession program led by Project Equity will help San Francisco businesses stay rooted in our city, and help their owners not only retire well, but be in control of their own succession planning. This program helps business owners learn about a less familiar, and highly practical option of employee ownership succession.

A Path to Sustain Small Businesses
Small business owners, particularly those with a goal of retiring in the next 1-5 years, will learn which options are available to them in place of closing the business or selling to an out-of-area buyer, encompassing family transitions, a local sale and employee ownership. Extensive information about selling to employees through a third-party funded transaction will be shared, given the lower familiarity with this approach and its tremendous benefits to businesses, employees and the community. Employee ownership succession gives business owners the ability to derive a market-rate return and to sell on their own timeline. The objective is to sustain the business’ legacy, to create opportunity for long-time loyal employees and to preserve jobs and business assets in San Francisco.

Employee Ownerships: Rooted in San Francisco
San Francisco is home to an estimated 50 employee-owned businesses structured as ESOPs (Employee Stock Ownership Plans) or worker-owned cooperatives, many of them well known and long established. Recology may have the biggest name recognition, being the recycling and trash service for San Francisco households and businesses. Other consumer-facing employee-owned businesses include Rainbow Grocery, Other Avenues Food Cooperative, Arizmendi Bakeries, Box Dog Bikes and Home Green Home Cleaning. Larger business-to-business companies also utilize employee ownership as a powerful business succession and employee retention tool, including Skyline Construction and California Shower Door as just two of many examples. This year, San Francisco’s newest employee-owned company, Rockman et al, was formed with the help of Project Equity.

San Francisco among a Group of Trailblazing Cities
With today’s announcement, San Francisco joins other trailblazing California cities that have recently established new programs to drive small business retention. Specifically, Project Equity has partnered with the cities of Fremont, Berkeley and Long Beach to bring business succession and employee ownership planning to small business owners.

“We want to help small business owners move succession planning from being on the ‘tomorrow to do list’ to being on today’s to do list,” said Project Equity said co-founder, Alison Lingane. “We’ve seen San Francisco businesses liquidate because they waited too long and health or other issues got in the way. Employee ownership, in particular, enables business owners to be in the driver’s seat of their succession planning and timeline. This partnership offers hands on resources and support for business owners to develop, then execute their succession plans.”

“Long standing legacy businesses anchor our neighborhoods. As businesses pass ownership to the next generation, it’s vital to ensure their transition is successful,” said Joaquin Torres, director of OEWD.” We are looking forward to partnering with Project Equity to engage businesses in succession planning and employee ownership models so these highly valued businesses and their employees remain part of San Francisco’s communities for generations to come.”

Small Business Owners Involvement
We expect that San Francisco small business owners that have been in business more than 20 years will be the ones to take advantage of this program. But, those businesses with more than 10 employees and 3-5 years of profitability can learn more about employee ownership succession by attending upcoming local events and signing up to receive a no cost consultation. A calendar of events can be found at: http://www.project-equity.org/events-and-webinars/. And to receive a free consultation, business owners can sign up at http://www.project-equity.org/free-consultation/.

Supporting Prosperity for SF Business Owners and Employees
This new partnership provides small business owners with support to adopt strategies that not only preserve the small business assets within San Francisco but also create new opportunities for employees to create wealth through business ownership.

About Project Equity
Project Equity is a national leader in the movement to harness employee ownership to maintain thriving local business communities, honor selling business owners’ legacies, and address income and wealth inequality. Headquartered in the San Francisco Bay Area, Project Equity works locally and with partners around the country to raise awareness about employee ownership as an exit strategy for business owners, and as an important approach for increasing employee engagement and wellbeing. Project Equity provides hands on consulting and support to companies that want to transition to employee ownership, as well as to the new employee-owners to ensure that they, and their businesses, thrive after the transition. Read more at http://www.project-equity.org.

About the Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD)
The Office of Economic and Workforce Development advances equitable and shared prosperity for San Franciscans by growing sustainable jobs, supporting businesses of all sizes, creating great places to live and work, and helping everyone achieve economic self-sufficiency. For more information, please visit http://www.oewd.org

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Lori Shepherd
@projectequity
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