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City Government Toolkit

How can cities support vibrant, local economies?

Invest in employee ownership as a central part of their business retention strategy. Baby boomer retirements are real, and with boomers owning a significant portion of our locally owned companies, understanding the pending impact on business retention and having the tools to address it is critical.

Sustaining quality jobs is critical to allow people to afford to live in the Bay Area and support their families. When businesses stay in operation and offer employees the option to become owners, it strengthens our local economy, provides quality jobs and increases opportunity.
Annie Campbell Washington

Vice Mayor, City of Oakland

Four practical steps cities can take to support employee ownership transitions

1. Track impact on small business ownership

  • Track and report on small- and medium-sized business closure rates, and capture age of business or owner
  • Report on years in business from city business licenses. How many businesses have been operating for 15 years or more?
  • Segment based on industry / sector

Read how the City of Fremont, CA tackled this issue >

2. Outreach to businesses that are over 15 years old

  • Engage with businesses about succession planning and employee ownership transitions
  • Forecast which businesses or sectors are likely most impacted and concentrate efforts there
  • Hold site visits to discuss succession planning with key target businesses


3. Contract with succession planning resources that include employee ownership

  • Engage with service providers to provide materials, seminars and hands on support for business owners that incorporates employee ownership


4. Fund technical support for businesses to sell to employees

  • Fund feasibility studies
  • Create a technical assistance matching fund available to transitioning businesses

Example: San Francisco “Legacy” business registry and fund


Additional ways cities can support employee ownership

Encourage employee-owned businesses to tap city procurement spending

  • Track and report on city procurement spend to employee-owned businesses: dollar amount, types of products and services
  • Offer incentives for employee-owned businesses within the procurement system


Offer loan guarantees or low interest or forgivable loans to support owners to sell their business to their employees


Sample ordinances to support employee ownership

Our partners, the Sustainable Economies Law Center (SELC) has many resources and sample ordinances supporting employee ownership and worker-owned cooperatives.

View SELC’s sample city ordinance >

View SELC’s summary of sample city ordinance >

Read more about city ordinances on SELC’s website >

Businesses owned by baby boomers

New updates!

Our latest study across the United States indicates millions of businesses are at risk of closing and point to employee ownership as a solution.

Free consultation

for businesses interested in employee ownership.

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View previous campaigns >