LA County launches worker ownership initiative

Last week, the LA County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a motion by Supervisor Holly Mitchell to create a countywide Worker Ownership Initiative (WOI). To raise awareness and support businesses across the county, the WOI will build on LA’s rapidly growing worker ownership ecosystem, which includes LA Coop Lab, Project Equity, and an increasing number of worker owned businesses, including Proof Bakery and Maximum Fun.

The Initiative, to be housed and developed by LA County’s Department of Economic Opportunity, in partnership with Project Equity, will draw on existing models, like NYC’s Worker Cooperative Busines Development Initiative, to create a centralized hub for resources and technical assistance referrals, improve capital access for start-up or conversion worker-owned businesses, and lead culturally- and linguistically-inclusive awareness raising efforts with businesses across the County.

In an exciting move that is, to our knowledge, the first of its kind in the country, LA County will give majority worker-owned businesses a 15% bid incentive on public procurement contracts by including them in their Social Enterprise Preference Program.

The motion also explores the possibility of creating a county-wide Legacy Business Program with a focus on succession planning. This follows the rise of Legacy Business Programs among communities across the country — including several cities within LA County — as a small business preservation strategy. 

The potential impact of worker ownership in LA County is enormous: the county is home to more than 1.3 million small businesses and more women- and BIPOC-owned businesses than any other county in the country. We look forward to continuing our partnership with the County as it launches this new Initiative to bring the benefits of worker ownership to all of its communities.

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