Promoting and Expanding Employee Ownership: State/Regional Centers One Year Later

By Anthony Matthews

As you all know, since 2003, the Rady School of Management has been deeply involved in the promotion of effective and successful employee ownership. The Beyster Institute is known around the country as the source of unique (sadly) and very effective courses within our university on the value and impact of employee ownership as a tool for business success as well as a battery of training programs for companies involved in the employee ownership movement as employee-owned companies working closely with those professionals who serve them.

Last year at about this time, we announced the activation of a second approach to promoting effective employee ownership aimed at the rest of the world. The California Center for Employee Ownership is celebrating its first full year of operation and I’ll start by telling you that this year has taken us very far along the road to having an active and successful effort. As our readers have heard (more than a few times, right here), UCSD, has taken an early and aggressive position in the effort to communicate the value of employee ownership to those who need to know about it – business owners, advisors to business owners, civic leaders, business and industry associations, and anyone else who might be in a position to influence the choices available to business owners at all stages of the business lifecycle. Whether in start-up mode; growing their businesses, guiding them through adversity, or as a key solution to their inevitable succession planning. The simple truth is that employee ownership has a role to play in enhancing value for business owners at any stage of a company’s development. At the same time, employee ownership effectively addresses the one really serious flaw in U. S. capitalism – that, as Louis Kelso observed back in the 60’s, it does not create enough capitalists.

Through effective employee ownership we can take material steps to resolving the disparity in wealth distribution in our country in a very real, direct and altogether American way. Widely applied, employee ownership is a resource to create wealth for millions of Americans who would simply not have it otherwise. We can create a secure future for those millions of Americans by providing them with the one ingredient in security that is so illusive for most of our citizens – ownership of capital assets that grow in value and replace income as earning power declines. Capital ownership is the vehicle for passive income that can take the pressure off of an inadequate Social Security system and increasingly difficult to accomplish savings, and the California Center for Employee Ownership is out front in this effort in California.

Our business model is simple. Our mission is to take the message to business owners and advisors where they live – in the business and civic organizations where they gather in every city and town in our state. To do that, we are initially counting on the connections of our ESOP companies to help get us into those organizations in their communities to deliver our message. We plan to continue to chain such introductions until a large number of civic and business organizations see our message as a significant part of theirs. It is simple, really, we are on the road to let successful employee ownership stories in every community in an attempt to open the minds of their business neighbors.

And, best of all, we are not alone. State and regional centers are springing up all over the U. S. in significant part due to the assistance of the National Center for Employee Ownership by providing coordination and advice to the fledgling centers and working with the more established ones to help spread the word – each in its own way. Tim Garbinski, outreach coordinator for the NCEO, sees this as a true opportunity:

"The state centers are a real movement. Over the past year I've received calls from people both inside of and external to the employee ownership world, all from people eager to help spread the word and encourage EO in our country. The number has grown year after year and, thanks to the great work done by the established centers, the movement seems stronger than ever. This past week alone I've had three individuals approach me about starting state centers in their state. There really is a genuine desire among people to better our economy and the lives of workers and the state centers are providing that outlet. It has been and continues to be extraordinarily rewarding to be a part of this movement."

During 2017, the California Center has been able to organize our effort and arrange six events that were delivered to chambers of commerce, entrepreneurs associations, and other similar groups from Truckee to Orange County, and we are poised to double our effort in 2018. Other state and regional centers are taking different approaches, but every center is focused on getting the word to the same audience – business owners and advisors who need to know about employee ownership as an option and who either don’t know anything about it or (all too often) think they know things about it that are not so.

Contact information for the established team is arrayed below. Get familiar with the group closest to you and get involved.

cceoCalifornia Center for Employee Ownership (CCEO)
Rady School of Management, UCSD
9500 Gilman Drive, #0553
La Jolla, CA 92093
Attn: Anthony Mathews, secretary –
(858) 822-6010
indianaIndiana Center for Employee Ownership
2760 Fortune Circle Drive E, #421983
Indianapolis, IN 46242-1983
Richard Van Doel, Ph.D., president and CEO -
Cell: (317) 561-1242
ny njNJ/NY Center for Employee Ownership
Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations
94 Rockafeller Road Piscataway Township, NJ
08854 William Castellano, associate dean -
ohioOhio Employee Ownership Center (OEOC)
Kent State University
113 McGilvrey Hall
Kent, OH 44242
Attn: Roy Messing, executive director –
(330) 672-0336
pennsylvaniaPennsylvania Center for Employee Ownership (PaCEO)
P.O. Box 1607
Havertown, PA 19083
Attn: Kevin McPhillips –
rocky mountainRocky Mountain Employee Ownership Center
110 16th Street, #1300
Denver, CO 80202
Attn: Halisi Vinson, executive director –
(303) 351-2003
vermontVermont Employee Ownership Center (VEOC)
286 College Street
Burlington, VT 05401
Don Jamison, executive director -
(802) 338-7448

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