The North Carolina Employee Ownership Center Receives Grant From The Winston-Salem Foundation to Raise Awareness of Employee Ownership Benefits
Employee Ownership Offers a Valuable Business Succession Tool While Generating Wealth for Employees and their Communities
DURHAM, NC, October 4, 2021 – The North Carolina Employee Ownership Center (NCEOC), a non-profit organization dedicated to providing resources and education around the benefits of employee ownership, has been awarded a $10,000 grant from The Winston-Salem Foundation. The grant enables NCEOC to provide outreach, educational opportunities, and networking to support business owners in the Triad region exploring employee-owned succession models and to help employees advocate for these models.
Succession planning is a growing concern in North Carolina. A new study developed by the NCEOC in partnership with Project Equity shows that approximately 55 percent of the more than 10,000 job-creating businesses in the Triad area are owned by those over the age of 55. It is estimated that 60 percent of these business owners plan to transfer ownership in the next decade and COVID-19 has accelerated this retirement timeline for many, yet many do not have a succession plan. Without a plan, many owners may be forced to sell and leave the state or close their doors permanently, resulting in job losses, a reduced tax base, and widespread community impact.
“This grant from The Winston-Salem Foundation allowed us to dig deeper into the Triad region with a community-based networking and education approach to amplify employee ownership as a valuable business tool,” said Guenevere Abernathy, Executive Director of NCEOC. “We’re on a mission to preserve and protect the job and community impacts of small and medium sized businesses throughout the state of North Carolina and appreciate the support from other organizations and businesses to help further the cause.”
Building Resiliency and Employee Retention
Employee ownership provides many of these businesses with a flexible exit plan, while also helping to increase employee satisfaction and productivity. Across North Carolina, businesses like Columbia Forest Products, headquartered in Greensboro, the leading manufacturer of hardwood plywood and hardwood veneer products in North America, have seen the practical benefits of shifting their business to employee ownership. From the beginning, Andy Honzel, Sr., founder of Columbia Forest Products, wanted his employees to feel like it was their company too. He is confident that granting his 2,100 employees ownership through an Employee Stock Ownership Plan has been the main driver in helping to create a culture with high employee involvement.
“Scores of Baby Boomers are scrambling to create a legacy for their family-run business, an endeavor they’ve likely put their blood, sweat and tears into creating, yet as the study points out, many don’t have a succession plan,” says Steve Storkan, Executive Director of the Employee Ownership Expansion Network, a national nonprofit focused on expanding employee ownership programs across the United States. “Oftentimes, rewarding their employees with ownership of the business is the ideal solution and the best way to create a lasting legacy that benefits owners, their employees, and the communities in which they live and work.”
To support the work of NCEOC or to inquire on how you might become involved in this mission to protect jobs in the Triad and help employees create wealth equity, visit https://nceoc.org/.
About The North Carolina Employee Ownership Center
The North Carolina Employee Ownership Center (NCEOC) serves as the central hub for employee-owned businesses in North Carolina. Its primary mission is to educate business owners and their advisors (lawyers, bankers, accountants, wealth advisors) on the benefits of employee ownership via Employees Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs), worker cooperatives, and Employee Ownership Trusts (EOTs). NCEOC provides resources, case studies, and articles, and a list of service providers who can assist with employee ownership transitions. NCEOC serves the entire state of North Carolina, with a particular focus on outreach to minority-owned businesses. For more information visit https://nceoc.org/.
About The Winston-Salem Foundation
The Winston-Salem Foundation is a community foundation that supports charitable programs in the greater Forsyth County area. Founded in 1919 from a $1,000 gift, it now administers more then 1,550 funds and had total custodial assets of $620.1 million at the end of 2020. In 2020, the Foundation granted $125.8 million to charitable causes, $3.2 million of which was through its Community Grants program. For more information visit https://www.wsfoundation.org/.
About The Employee Ownership Expansion Network
The Employee Ownership Expansion Network is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded in Philadelphia, PA in 2018. Its mission is to significantly expand employee ownership in the United States by establishing and supporting a network of independent non-profit Centers for Employee Ownership. EOX has provided funding and technical assistance to support the opening of seven state centers for employee ownership. The organization aims to help create one million new employee owners by 2025 by having at least 70 percent of the U.S. population living in a state with a center for employee ownership. For more information visit www.eoxnetwork.org.