Press releases

Project Equity partners with the City of Berkeley to support small businesses

Partnership will Assist Businesses Interested in Transitioning to Employee Ownership

Project Equity, a Bay Area nonprofit organization advancing economic resiliency in communities across the country, today announced it was awarded a grant by the City of Berkeley’s Office of Economic Development to quantify and address the risks posed to local business retention when baby boomer small business owners retire. Project Equity will also help lessen these risks by helping sustain Berkeley businesses through employee ownership transitions. “Berkeley’s history is one of vision and leadership in pursuing initiatives that support and sustain its unique community. We’re excited about working with the City to help sustain and grow employee-owned businesses and worker cooperatives,” said Alison Lingane, co-founder of Project Equity.

The City of Berkeley’s partnership with Project Equity has three goals:

1. Understand the data: Quantify business retention risk, so that city staff can understand its implications, and the need to address it.

2. Raise awareness: Help city staff, Berkeley business owners, and others learn about the need for business succession planning, and of the potential solution of employee ownership transitions.

3. Support businesses: Provide technical assistance for businesses to assess the feasibility, then advance the business transition. “Berkeley’s small businesses are crucial in a myriad of ways for employment, tax dollars, and even to the character of the city.

We selected Project Equity for the important work of helping us retain local businesses based on their innovative model for sustaining small businesses in communities both locally and nationwide,” said Jordan Klein, the City of Berkeley’s Economic Development Manager. The grant award enables Project Equity to examine local businesses that are at risk of closing their doors or being bought by an out-of-area buyer when their owners decide to retire. These are real risks that threaten businesses here in Berkeley and within other communities across the Bay Area. Read more about Project Equity’s study1 , which indicates that 12,440 businesses in Alameda County are owned by baby boomers. Berkeley has been working towards integrating more support for worker cooperatives since February 2016, when Berkeley’s then Councilmember and current Mayor Jesse Arreguin introduced a Resolution2 in support of worker cooperatives.

The Sustainable Economies Law…… Center
3 led in developing the resolution, and has been working closely with community stakeholders, the Office of Economic Development, and the Mayor to implement key strategies to support worker cooperatives in Berkeley. In addition to Berkeley and Fremont, Project Equity is working with Long Beach, California, and has planned announcements with two other cities in Southern California on similar efforts before the end of 2018.


About Project Equity: Project Equity is an Oakland-based nonprofit that is a national leader in supporting businesses to transition to employee ownership, and has partnered with communities as diverse as Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Detroit, Michigan, rural Western North Carolina and the Twin Cities in Minnesota. Visit

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