Baby Boomers Own Numerous Small Businesses in Central Pennsylvania
New opportunities make it easier to transition small businesses into employee-ownership, keeping employees living within 5 counties employed
"What happens to these businesses when boomers retire? And, what happens to our community during this transition?" asks Craig Dalen, Director of Impact Business Strategy at ASSETS, who is co-leading the project.
Project Equity (www.project-
The data presentation identifies 11,500 privately-held businesses with employees spread across five counties - Lancaster, York, Dauphin, Lebanon and Berks - in Central Pa. The data shows 134,660 employees, $30.87 billion in total sales, and $4.79 billion in payroll from these companies, suggesting the true impact of potential business closure or consolidation. The data are drawn from the most recent U.S. Census Survey of Small Business Owners (2012).
"I believe that any time a family or closely held business in our community goes out of business or is sold to a larger entity, our community loses something very valuable that we cannot recover. I passionately believe that." says Roger North, Founder and President of Lititz-based consulting firm,North Group Consulting, with specialty in succession planning and leadership transitions.
"I know all too well what happens when no planning was done by owners, because I have helped businesses shut down or be sold at "fire sale" prices – which is sometimes the only remaining option." Peter Kraybill, attorney at Gibbel, Kraybill & Hess.
The data presentation is also an effort to demonstrate the opportunity for Central Pennsylvanian businesses to transition to employee-owned structures and to highlight the potential that employee ownership transitions have to strengthen our local economies.
Alison Lingane, co-founder of Project Equity adds, "While it's important to draw attention to the data and its implications, what's most compelling is that we have a real possibility to sustain small businesses for the long term by transitioning some of them to broad-based employee ownership. Employee ownership is one of the best ways to keep thriving businesses locally rooted into the next generation."
As Chip Cargas, chairman & CEO of business software Cargas Systems, puts it, "Direct employee ownership helps us attract and engage talented and caring employees who do great work for our customers. That, in turn, helps us grow sustainably, add rewarding local jobs, and give back to our community. The opportunity for ownership wealth building is open to all employees, not just a select few." Chip began transferring ownership of Cargas Systems to his employees 19 years ago.
"At ASSETS, we see employee-owned businesses, cooperatives, and business conversions to employee ownership as part of a broad-based community wealth building strategy. Employee-owned companies have an impressive track record, both from a business case perspective and from a community wealth building perspective. Widespread ownership transitions in our community offer us an opportunity to harness the moment to retain local jobs, root wealth locally and maintain a vibrant local economy. Employee ownership structures are a powerful way to do this.These structures democratize the economy." says Craig Dalen, "These models are a compelling market-based approach to systematically lessen inequality and build an economy that works for everyone."
ASSETS www.assetspa.org creates economic opportunity and cultivates entrepreneurial leadership to alleviate poverty and build vibrant, sustainable communities.
Project Equity is a nonprofit organization based in Oakland, California dedicated to expanding broad-based employee ownership—especially for low-wage workers—to strengthen our local economies. Project Equity envisions a future where business decisions are made through a lens of what is good for employees and communities, leading to businesses that are more successful, communities that are more resilient, and workers who have stable jobs and economic security. www.project-