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Mini-cast 115: 2021 & Employee Ownership NYC

Despite all of 2020's challenges, Bret Keisling shares his optimism, including exciting developments such as Employee Ownership NYC and Connecticut Center for Employee Ownership (CTCEO).


Mini-cast 115 Transcript

Bret Keisling: 00:03 Welcome to the ESOP Mini-cast. Thank you so much for listening. My name is Bret Keisling and as it says on my business cards, I'm a passionate advocate for employee ownership. Well, we made it 2020 is now in the record books and we've officially kicked off 2021 a year in which we'll continue to face challenges, but there's plenty to provide hope and optimism that things will get better.

Bret Keisling: 00:34 What has sustained me during the last year, as so many have struggled financially and otherwise, is my strong belief that when we get to the other side of the pandemic, we will come back stronger than ever. It's what we do. It's also important to recognize that the pandemic has raised critical issues that are fundamental to employee ownership, including fair and livable wages, community economic infrastructure, and wealth inequality. Meanwhile, employee ownership continues to add to its own infrastructure that will not just grow the EO sandbox, but make it more robust as well.

Bret Keisling: 01:11 Today. I want to talk very briefly about Connecticut and New York City.

Connecticut Center for Employee Ownership logo

Bret Keisling: 01:14 First, a shout out and congratulations to the newly formed Connecticut Center for Employee Ownership! They're officially up and operating and you can visit their website at This is part of EOX. Steve Storkan, the executive director of EOX, appeared on Episode 128 of our primary EO/ESOP Podcast and you can listen to that episode to hear how a state center comes to exist. I don't have the names of board members or volunteers to congratulate, but Steve did share on the podcast that our friend Amy Huot was an early ambassador in Connecticut. So congrats to Steve and Amy and everyone involved and very much thank you for helping grow the sandbox.

Bret Keisling: 02:00 Meanwhile, there's an exciting new initiative in New York City called, simply enough, Employee Ownership NYC. This initiative will provide $10,000 in services to businesses who are considering converting to employee ownership. The services include initial consultant and eligibility assessment, business valuation estimates, potential access to capital, guidance through the sales process, and training and education for interested parties. They're hoping to serve up to 20,000 businesses, which is an incredible $200 million designed to grow employee ownership.

Bret Keisling: 02:37 I suspect a lot of attention will be focused on co-ops and collectives, which have lower conversion costs than ESOPs do. And as long as they're employee owned, I'm in favor of it regardless of the cap structure. It may seem like $10,000 is too little for an ESOP conversion, but I look at it as sort of a pre-feasibility assessment, which will allow a business owner considering EO, including ESOPs, to at least see if it's worth pursuing to the next more expensive phase of the transaction.

Bret Keisling: 03:09 There's a really cool video put out by Employee Ownership NYC explaining the initiative and we'll include a link to it in our show notes.

Bret Keisling: 03:19 I said earlier that employee ownership answers many of the important questions facing our country. Nothing proves that more than the groups behind Employee Ownership NYC. Mayor Bill de Blasio worked in concert with the Taskforce on Racial Inclusion and Equity, the Department of Small Business Services (SBS), and the Mayor’s Office of Minority and Women-Owned Businesses Enterprises (M/WBE). Enterprises, employee ownership, checks off a lot of boxes, which will help make our communities, our country, and our world a better place.

Bret Keisling: 03:54 We'll include a link to a press release in our show notes. It includes a list of service providers the businesses can turn to, and I do want to acknowledge that one of them is the Democracy at Work Institute which is doing so much nationwide to support and grow the EO sandbox. Congratulations, and thank you to everybody involved in the New York City initiative. New York City's taken massive hits in the last year and this initiative is just one more sign to me of acknowledging the difficult times while working hard to make the post-pandemic future better for all of us.

Bret Keisling: 04:33 Quick programming note: Our Tuesday podcasts we've been running the best of our 2020 interviews. In order to get them all in we're going to use a couple of Friday Mini-casts to air long-form interviews, including next week, January 6th.

Bret Keisling: I truly hope that 2021 is smoother and gentler for all of us. Take care of yourself and those around you. We're going through an awful lot together right now, and that's how we'll get through it together. And that's what employee ownership is all about. Thank you so much for listening. My name is Bret Keisling be well.

Bitsy McCann: We'd love to hear from you! To contact us, find us on Facebook at KEISOP, LLC and on Twitter @ESOPPodcast. To reach Bret, with one "T", email, on LinkedIn at Bret Keisling, and most actively on Twitter at @EO_Bret. Again, that's one "T". This podcast has been produced by The KEISOP Group, technical assistance provided by Third Circle, Inc. and BitsyPlus Design. Original music composed by Max Keisling, archival podcast material edited and produced by Brian Keisling, and I'm Bitsy McCann.

Standard Disclaimer: The views expressed herein are my own and don't represent those of my own firms or the organizations to which I belong. Nothing in the podcast should be construed as guidance or advice of any kind in any field and the fact that I mentioned an organizational website or an advocate or a company on a podcast does not reflect an endorsement, but if you've heard your name or your group's name mentioned on this podcast, I'd love to have you come on and talk about it yourself.

A note on the transcript: This transcript was produced by Temi, an automated transcription service. While it has been reviewed by The ESOP Podcast, we can not guarantee the accuracy of the transcription. Please refer to the original audio when citing sources.


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