NCEOC?s Equity Focus Featured in Aspen Institute Profile

The Aspen Institute recently released a report profiling the important work of the North Carolina Employee Ownership Center (NCEOC) and our key role as the first state center supported by the Employee Ownership Expansion Network (EOX). 

Wealth inequality and the Silver Tsunami of retiring Baby Boomer business owners are pressing issues in our state. One innovative solution is employee ownership. By educating the public about the benefits of employee ownership, and centering equity as part of its work, North Carolina is inspiring similar efforts in other states.

From the report: ?Employee ownership ensures that workers, particularly people of color and women, share in the nation?s prosperity. The North Carolina Employee Ownership Center (NCEOC) takes an affirmative approach to incorporating equity into its mission of expanding employee ownership. The work of NCEOC, in collaboration with the Employee Ownership Expansion Network (EOX), showcases the vital role of state centers in connecting local efforts with the national employee ownership movement.?

Employee Ownership Rebalances Economies

The disparity in wealth in the United States is not just a statistical anomaly but a critical challenge that needs addressing. Wealth is heavily concentrated among the richest 10% of households, leaving the bottom 40% in debt. The racial wealth gap is even more glaring, with median white families holding considerably more assets than Black and Latino families. 

Employee ownership (EO) offers a path to economic rebalancing. By allowing workers to own shares in a company via an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), worker cooperative, or Employee Ownership Trust (EOT), EO gives many more people the opportunity to build wealth and overcome economic challenges. It also helps foster inclusive, equitable business environments while offering business owners a path to business succession that protects their legacy.

The Employee Ownership Expansion Network (EOX)

The Employee Ownership Expansion Network (EOX) has played a pivotal role in the establishment and growth of new state EO centers across the United States since its founding in 2018. EOX provides technical expertise, financial assistance, and marketing tools, as well as active involvement on the board of directors of new state centers during the startup phase. 

By the numbers, EOX’s impact is clear. Between 2020 and 2023, the 13 new centers affiliated with EOX engaged with 1,310 partner organizations, held 185 presentations, and reached over 5,065 attendees. Not content to rest on its laurels, EOX has a goal of helping create 1,000,000 new employee owners by 2025.

The North Carolina Employee Ownership Center (NCEOC)

Founded in 2019 with the support of EOX, the North Carolina Employee Ownership Center?s mission is deeply rooted in addressing racial and economic inequities within the state. Its journey began with the vision of Anne-Claire Broughton, who understood the potential of EO to build wealth and empower frontline workers. The NCEOC team has since worked hard to establish connections across North Carolina and promote EO as both a desirable business model and as an exit vehicle for retiring business owners that preserves their legacy and community impacts.

North Carolina?s economy is predominantly made up of small businesses, which provide nearly half of our state?s jobs. NCEOC has tailored its approach to include services for these smaller businesses which may be a good fit for a worker cooperative or Employee Ownership Trust, as well as outreach to larger businesses that might be better suited to an ESOP. 

The NCEOC has also been a model for other state EO centers in its focus on equity. Partnerships with local Black and Hispanic chambers of commerce and a dedicated focus on language equity through translation services have been central to NCEOC’s outreach and impact.

Read the full Aspen Institute report here.