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Mini-cast 230: The 2023 VEOC Annual Conference

Bret Keisling shares a clip from the Owner to Owner podcast. Host Jesse Tyler speaks with Matt Cropp, Executive Director of the Vermont Employee Ownership Center (VEOC), about the 2023 Annual VEOC Conference on June 1, 2023. VEOC23 is a great chance to learn about worker co-ops, ESOPs, EOTs, and employee ownership in general, in a beautiful setting that has a much more intimate feel than national and most regional conferences.

This year's keynote speaker is Derek Peebles, Senior Director of Policy and Advocacy, Inclusive Economy of the American Sustainable Business Network. Derek's work situates employee ownership within the context of strengthening place-based finance and promoting restorative investments in local economies.

O2O host Jesse Tyler will be co-presenting at two sessions: Trials and Tribulations of Returning to Working In Person & Impact on Employee Ownership Culture, and What is Working in Recruiting, Onboarding, Learning and Development as the Workforce Evolves.


Mini-cast 230 Transcript

[00:00:00] Bret Keisling: 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. Next week, the Vermont Employee Ownership Center, or VEOC, is holding its 21st annual conference, which will take place once again at the University of Vermont's Davis Center in Burlington, Vermont. I've been to the Vermont conference a number of times, and it's always been one of my favorites. Don't get me wrong, the national and regional conferences are amazing, but the almost intimate nature of the Vermont conference with an equal focus on ESOPs and worker co-ops is always a special experience.

[00:00:50] Way back in 2018, on Episode 37 of our primary EO/ESOP podcast, we featured highlights from that year's conference, including an unannounced and surprise appearance by Senator Bernie Sanders, who spoke about the importance of employee ownership and frankly wowed the whole room. You can hear all of Bernie Sanders comments on Episode 37, which you can find at

[00:01:19] Earlier this week, the executive director of the VEOC, Matt Cropp, joined Jesse Tyler on the Owner to Owner podcast for a brief look at this year's conference. Here's Jesse Tyler with Matt Cropp.


[00:01:32] Jesse Tyler: We just want to have a quick check-in with Matt from the Vermont Employee Ownership Center and share his thoughts on the upcoming June 1st VEOC Conference. It's an excellent state conference for those of you not familiar with it.

[00:01:48] Matt, if you could just introduce yourself and then share a little bit about the upcoming conference that you're excited about.

[00:01:54] Matt Cropp: Yeah, so I'm Matt Cropp I'm the executive director of the Vermont Employee Ownership Center, and this is our 21st year doing a Vermont Employee Ownership Conference. And the first year to be doing it without Don Jamison on staff who retired this year. So, we're kind of, you know, it's, it's a big moment for the organization.

[00:02:10] I think there's a few things this year that I'm particularly excited about. Our keynoter Derek Peebles. We, myself and my coworker Ryan, saw him speak at the Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility Conference last year. And, you know, really advocated for employee ownership as part of, you know, really what does it look like to build a sustainable and vibrant local economy. So, really interested to hear what he has to say.

[00:02:30] And then, you know, it's a one-day event with a lot of great different content that includes kind of introductions for folks who are new to employee ownership and are exploring employee ownership as a potential exit path for their business, both on the ESOP and the worker co-op side. So, there's good content there.

[00:02:46] And there's going to be a number of great culture tracks, including, you know, Jesse, you'll be doing some stuff on return to work and recruiting, onboarding, and workforce development, which is also exciting. We do some more of technical stuff like, you know, kind of hot topics for ESOPs for the folks who are needing to really be up to speed on what are the latest developments legally and otherwise.

[00:03:04] So, there's really kind of something for a wide variety of different audiences at the conference and it's also just a great gathering of the employee ownership community in the state of Vermont, right? We have a lot of folks come, you know, who have different perspectives, come from different industries. And one of the things that we definitely missed when we were remote as much as we tried to, you know, kind of recreate it and find opportunities to do it, is just that mixing goal of folks sitting at lunch tables and learning about what each other's companies are doing and all of that kind of building of relationships that can carry far beyond the conference throughout the year.

[00:03:37] Jesse Tyler: That's great. That's great. Yeah, I think of the -- I've been several -times over the years and really enjoy, it's a highlight for me, having attended, you know, The ESOP Association and being a big advocate for the NCEO, I think it's on that quality level. So, it's great if some of the listeners for the Owner to Owner podcast are curious and want to check out the conference.

[00:03:55] And then with the engagement level, I think what I've always enjoyed is there's a variety of different speaker styles, but it's always a lot of fun and there's plenty of social time. The venue is absolutely beautiful. So, you can go, you can make new connections, you can renew old acquaintances, have some fun, do some learning.

[00:04:12] So, again, good luck with the conference. I know it's going to be excellent. I look forward to seeing you there.

[00:04:16] Matt Cropp: Thank you so much.


[00:04:17] Bret Keisling: You can find the conversation with Jesse and Matt in Episode 43 of the Owner to Owner podcast at It also includes a rebroadcast of a previous conversation featuring Jesse, Matt, Steve Storkan of [the Employee Ownership Expansion Network] EOX, and Michael Palmieri of the Ohio Employee Ownership Center talking all about state EO centers. It's a great episode and I hope you'll check it out.

[00:04:45] I'm also pleased to share that in a few weeks, I'll be recording a full-length conversation with Steve Storkan and Loren Rodgers of the NCEO who are going to talk about the exciting new NCEOX Initiative that we covered in Episode 226 of the Mini-cast. We can't wait to bring you that conversation on our primary EO/ESOP Podcast.

[00:05:08] With that we'll wrap up this episode of the Mini-cast. Thank you so much for listening. This is Bret Keisling. Be well.


[00:05:15] Bitsy McCann: We'd love to hear from you. You can find us on Facebook at EO Podcast Network and on Twitter @EsOpPodcast. This podcast has been produced by Bret Keisling for the EO Podcast Network, original music composed by Max Keisling, branding and marketing by BitsyPlus Design, 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 cannot guarantee the accuracy of the transcription. Please refer to the original audio when citing sources.


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