Employee Ownership for Manufacturers

A tool to create resilient supply chains and quality jobs

Though it has long been a backbone of quality jobs and a strong economy, American manufacturing faces a set of mounting challenges. In the wake of the pandemic, supply chains are more fragile than ever and the workforce shortage continues to grow. What is less well documented is that both of these existing challenges could be made much worse by a looming wave of retiring owners who have no clear succession plan: 60% of small- and medium-sized manufacturers have owners at or near retirement age, threatening the future of almost 150,000 businesses and, with them, 3 million jobs. To ensure a future in which American manufacturers can thrive, we must address the risk posed by this “Silver Tsunami” of retiring owners.

This report presents employee ownership as a strategy to address all three challenges with a flexible and proactive succession planning tool. We highlight the growing number of cases in which employee ownership has been successfully used to strengthen small- and medium-sized American manufacturers, including an innovative partnership the Oregon Manufacturing Extension Partnership (OMEP) has formed with Project Equity to offer their clients employee ownership succession planning services. By connecting these pressing challenges with this powerful solution, this report aims to equip key stakeholders to incorporate employee ownership into their toolkits to support small- and medium-sized manufacturers across the country, taking a critical step toward building quality jobs, forming resilient supply chains, and establishing sustainable business models.

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