Sanders secures $158,000 for the VEOC

The Vermont Employee Ownership Center was awarded $158,000 for outreach, technical assistance grants, and legal resources development last week as part of the $1.5 trillion federal omnibus bill signed by President Joe Biden on Friday, March 11.

The VEOC is currently experiencing higher-than-average interest in employee ownership business conversions, in part due to economic shifts resulting from both the COVID-19 pandemic and the accelerating rate of retiring business owners, also known as the “Silver Tsunami.”

“This grant comes at an opportune time when both the need for our services and the opportunities to expand the number of Vermonters experiencing the benefits of employee ownership are significant,” said Executive Director Matt Cropp. “We look forward to the additional resources helping us to maximize our impact in the coming year while also creating resources that will benefit Vermonters for years to come!”

The funds were secured by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) in response to a Congressionally Directed Spending request made by the VEOC. The center will use the funds to reach more Vermont business owners and entrepreneurs, administer technical assistance grants to businesses considering or converting to employee ownership, and create legal resources to simplify employee ownership transactions for Vermont business owners, employee groups, and entrepreneurs.

The $158,000 includes:

  • $83,000 for increased staffing capacity.
  • $50,000 for technical assistance grants to partially cover feasibility studies and reports, valuations, and legal costs of employee ownership conversions.
  • $25,000 to fund the development of a Vermont-specific legal guide and template offering documents for employees seeking to raise capital to fund the transition of their workplaces to broad-based employee ownership.

Many business owners in Vermont and across the country are now approaching retirement age, and it is crucial that they are aware of the range of ownership succession options, including that of selling their business to the broader group of employees. The VEOC created a full-time Communications and Outreach Coordinator position in September 2021 in order to grow awareness of employee ownership options and help Vermont’s local businesses continue to thrive after their owners have retired.

While the VEOC sometimes provides direct technical assistance during the employee ownership conversion process, the center refers businesses to specialists for services such as feasibility studies, business valuations, or legal assistance. With these federal dollars, the Center will be able to help cover some of the costs associated with these services for qualifying business owners and employee groups. In addition, the VEOC will use a portion of the funds to develop legal guidance templates to simplify the employee ownership transaction process. The documents and templates will be offered free of charge to those considering employee ownership business models.

March 14, 2022