On Wednesday, February 12, 2020, the House Small Business Committee convened a hearing “Challenges and Benefits of Employee-owned Small Businesses” to discuss the employee ownership model. Members who attended, including Reps. Velázquez (D-NY-7), Chabot (R-OH-1), Balderson (D-OH-12), Kim (D-NJ-3), Golden (D-ME-2), Davids (D-KS-3), Finkenhauer (D-IA-1), Craig (D-MN-2), Delgado (D-NY-19), Bishop (R-NC-9), Spano (R-FL-15), Burchett (R-TN-2), and Stauber (R-MN-8) learned about the benefits of employee ownership for business owners, their employees, and their local economies.
Witnesses for the hearing included Daniel Goldstein, President and CEO of Folience; R.L. Condra, Vice President of Advocacy and Government Programs, National Cooperative Bank (USFWC member), John Abrams, CEO and Co-Owner, South Mountain Company (USFWC Member), and Mark Gillming, Senior Vice President, Messer Construction Company.
“Worker ownership has been far more meaningful and valuable than I ever imagined. There’s no question in my mind that it has been a critical factor in our modest long-term success.”
– John Abrams, South Mountain Company
The hearing explored some of the challenges businesses face in converting to a co-op or ESOP model, as well as ways current federal programs can be optimized to minimize those challenges.
A few highlights from the hearing:
- Rep. Velázquez expressed her commitment to ensure the Small Business Administration finds a solution to the personal guarantee barrier for cooperatives;
- Additionally, Rep. Velázquez will meet with a roundtable of Small Business Development Centers, and will speak with them about promoting worker ownership with this group;
- Likewise, Rep. Golden is interested in spreading education and outreach about employee ownership;
- Rep. Balderson probed for information about how the Small Business Committee can address healthcare needs for workers; and
- Rep. Stauber praised small business owners like the panelists for their innovative, common-sense solutions
The USFWC is pleased to see this commitment to ensuring worker ownership becomes a widely known solution for businesses across the country, and are excited to see our efforts and the efforts of our members and partners coming to fruition over the last three years. Stay tuned for more information to come on developments from this hearing.
- Read the recap of the hearing from the House Small Business Committee
- Read the Statement of the Hon. Nydia M. Velázquez on “Challenges and Benefits of Employee-owned Small Businesses”
Are you interested in supporting the USFWC’s policy efforts? Here’s how you can plug in.
- Become a sustainer – every dollar helps us to focus our time on advocating for worker co-ops
- Share this video – make sure your members and community are up-to-date about developments on the Main Street Employee Ownership Act.
- Check to see if your representative is a member of the House Small Business Committee. If so, it is helpful for you to send a letter of support for worker cooperatives and the Main Street Employee Ownership Act. Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org for help in creating your letter.
- Join the USFWC’s Policy and Advocacy member council to plug into this work and to get the latest news on federal, state, and local policy efforts
- Invite your representative to join the Congressional Cooperative Business Caucus, which provides a opportunity for greater visibility of cooperative economic impact before Congress and the Administration and driving a co-op-friendly legislative agenda.