Beyster Institute 2009-2010:
New Challenges, New Opportunities


By Anthony I. Mathews

The end of June is the end of the tracking year for the university. It’s the time we tally up the score for the last year and make a case for our continued existence in the year to come. For us, it is a time to look at who we are and what we have accomplished and a chance to look at what we can be and do in the year to come.

This last year was a disaster by most accounts, but with the help of supporters and clients and our own initiative, we will make our numbers for 2008-2009. Thank you.

That means that, barring the total collapse of the state of California, we should live to fight another day. This year the Beyster Institute split into two independent operations, which seemed in the beginning to be a serious disruption of our plans. But as it is developing, both parts seem to be stronger and more focused than before. Our employee ownership group is more committed than ever to our single purpose – to spread the word that employee ownership, when properly practiced, is the right answer for not only of our community of employee-owned companies, but for our country as a whole. This timely message is more difficult to deliver than ever, as resources are more restricted than at any time in my professional memory.

So what are we going to do in the year to come? Push on with some new initiatives, new partners and renewed dedication.

Our Work Group on Wealth Creation Through Shared Ownership is off to a great start. We look forward to developing a statement of common interest and collaboration with practitioners of such diverse collective ownership vehicles as credit unions, worker cooperatives, community development coalitions and numerous others. The object of the work group is to develop and mount several pilot projects that join the expertise of several of these disciplines to see how together we can magnify the results for the people we help. Can you imagine a manufacturing company that is owned and operated by its employees, operating out of a factory which is owned by the inner-city community through community investment and help from credit unions and others? We can. Our partner in this effort is the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

The California Conference on the Stimulus is taking shape for an October launch. This event will connect members of local government, the Federal Reserve Bank and the U. S. Chamber with large construction companies and smaller employee-owned and disadvantaged companies. Its goal is to explore how the stimulus dollars can flow into some places where they can do some real good. Our partners in this effort are the Federal Reserve Bank, Progress Through Business and Business Link.

At the same time, we are continuing our regular menu of projects: Employee Ownership for Professional Advisers (which now carries full CPE and CLE credit); the Employee Ownership Management Program (6th edition); a great annual conference on employee ownership we present with the NCEO (next year in Minneapolis); our MBA course on employee ownership (the first such ever offered, but increasingly common on campuses around the country); consulting with and helping companies thinking about employee ownership (60 in-depth and numerous others through our many seminars, webinars and many individual contacts).

We’ll keep you posted on the progress of the initiatives described above, and thank you for your interest in our work.

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