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Mini-cast 143: Colorado’s EO Successes

Bret Keisling celebrates recent employee ownership successes, including meeting Governor Jared Polis’s goal of 20 new employee owned companies and new tax credits for businesses considering EO which passed with bipartisan support.


Mini-cast 143 Transcript

Bret Keisling: [00:00:05] 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. Today, we're going to spend a few minutes talking about the impressive successes employee ownership is enjoying right now in the state of Colorado. There've been 20 new employee-owned firms created during the last twelve months and recently Colorado enacted legislation that provides 10 million in funding for tax credits to offset costs of converting to employee ownership, including professional advisory fees for companies considering employee ownership.

[00:00:48] In 2019, Governor Jared Polis of Colorado created an Employee Ownership Commission. You heard about the commission and Governor Polis's efforts on Episode 122 of our primary EO/ESOP podcast. In that episode, we spoke with two co-founders of the Rocky Mountain Employee Ownership Center [RMEOC] and we also shared a feature with Jennifer Briggs, who is a leading national advocate for employee ownership and also serves as commissioner on Colorado's employee ownership commission. I hope you'll check out that episode in our archives at

[00:01:27] In 2020, the Governor announced a goal of converting or creating 20 new employee-owned companies. The Colorado Office of Employee Ownership, which is part of the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade announced that the Governor's goal had been met. I can't stress how exciting and important it is that a governor set a goal for employee ownership and the goal is reached. We're going to include some links in our show notes to the Colorado Office of Employee Ownership. You can find case studies of some of the firms that have converted to employee ownership in the last year.

[00:02:01] For example, one conversion that's highlighted is the Applewood Seed Company, which was founded in 1965 in Golden, Colorado. Since that time, Applewood Seed has become one of the largest producers of open pollinated flower seeds in the United States. They converted to an ESOP in July, 2020. Check out the article about Applewood and other great Colorado companies that have converted to employee ownership, whether ESOP, co-op, or collective.

[00:02:32] In addition to the focus on employee ownership, Colorado has created incentives to allow tax credits to offset some of the costs when a new or existing business converts to employee ownership. The law specifically allows tax credits for the payment of professional fees related to the creation, including legal, valuation, and other administrative services. This is critically important for two reasons. First of all the tax credits themselves do provide an incentive for companies to consider employee ownership. But it also opens the door to more robust marketing efforts among professional advisors. Talented and ambitious EO professionals have no doubt already added the tax credits to their selling points when they market their services in Colorado. In addition to all of the great reasons why a company should consider employee ownership, I suspect the tax credits will be a selling point as well.

[00:03:29] I wanted to talk about Colorado in today's Mini-cast for a couple of reasons. First of all I wanted to celebrate and amplify the successes in Colorado. But there is a broader purpose as well. If you're in a state that isn't Colorado, be like Colorado. Imagine the effect on employee ownership if each of our states had an Office of Employee Ownership. Imagine the effects on employee ownership if every state offered tax credits for the conversion to employee ownership.

[00:04:04] I am thrilled with the ongoing success of employee ownership in Colorado. I am over the moon thrilled that Governor Polis is a real deal believer in employee ownership. As a matter of fact, when he announced his bid for governor, he did so from an employee-owned company. If you hear him talk any time about employee ownership, he covers all of the points; understands what's so important about it. And every time I've seen him speak, it's without notes. Governor Polis is a true believer. I'm grateful and all of us, regardless of political affiliation, if you support employee ownership, join me in applauding Governor Jared Polis's great efforts.

[00:04:55] One last thing before we go, as you're aware, the NCEO Fall ESOP Forum will be in San Diego, California, September 22nd through the 24th and also virtual as well. You can register virtually and you can register for a hybrid option. No matter how you register at checkout enter the discount code EOPod25 and save $25 off the cost of registration. That's case sensitive. EO pod capital E, capital O, capital P, small case o, small case d, 25.

[00:05:38] With that we'll wrap up today's episode. Please join us Tuesday for our primary EO/ESOP podcast. And if you like what we're doing, we're grateful if you like the episode, share the episode, subscribe to the episode. Thank you so much for listening. This is Bret Keisling. Be well.


Bitsy McCann: [00:05:56] 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 Descript, 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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