Los Angeles/ Retail & Industry
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Published on November 30, 2023
Los Angeles Welcomes Workers with Open Arms as it Unveils a New 'Employee Ownership' Initiative Aimed at Rescuing Small Businesses and Preserving JobSource: Department of Economic Opportunity County of Los Angeles Official Website

In a major move to bolster small business and employee prosperity, LA County has rolled the dice on a trailblazing initiative, offering free advice and assistance to entrepreneurs itching to pass the baton to their workers. The newly minted 'Employee Ownership LA County' will pave the way for employees to grab a piece of the pie, keeping small businesses thriving and jobs in the hood, according to a press release from the Los Angeles County Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO).

The brains behind this business-savvy move, DEO, in cahoots with the folks at Project Equity, are waving the flag for a smooth transition of ownership from the old guard to the new. This service, spun off from DEO’s Office of Small Business, Small Business Concierge, aims to keep about 25,000 dotage-facing businesses, which are crucial for propping up more than 750,000 local jobs and fueling over $225 billion in local revenue, from biting the dust. LA is bracing for a seismic shift in the business landspace as thousands of boomer-run shops and enterprises hover on the brink of a "silver tsunami," making this could-be game-changer a timely elixir for those looking for a way out and a way forward for their employees.

Championed by Supervisor Holly Mitchell, whose Worker Ownership Initiative struck a chord with the Board of Supervisors, this grand plan puts the spotlight on shared ownership, positioning it as a key to economic equity and revival for LA's businesses battling the aftershocks of the pandemic. "Today, we launch Employee Ownership LA County to invest in addressing long-standing economic inequities that have only deepened in the wake of COVID-19," Supervisor Mitchell noted during the program's unveiling, affirming the strategy's capacity to mint wealth for workers and fortify locally owned businesses.

Despite the pandemic upsetting the apple cart for many businesses, this initiative looks to turn the tide by showcasing success stories like Giroux Glass, which trumpets a 100% employee-owned structure. "Becoming a 100% ESOP employee-owned company has allowed us to offer our employees the opportunity to create personal wealth and significant retirement assets,” Giroux Glass CEO and President Nataline Lomedico enthused, extolling the virtues of employee ownership in bumping up company growth and engagement and providing a bulwark against economic squalls.

With Uncle Sam's ARPA funds greasing the wheels, DEO and Project Equity are keen to shepherd companies through the maze of employee ownership transitions. Kelly LoBianco, Director of LA County’s DEO, chipped in, "The Department of Economic Opportunity is thrilled to launch this important resource for small businesses in Los Angeles County." Business moguls and advisors from across LA County can get a headstart by booking a private pow-wow on employee ownership or hobnobbing with experts during office hours at the East LA Entrepreneur Center. It's not just a new lease on life for business, but as Project Equity CEO Evan Edwards put it, it's LA playing its ace to keep the community's beloved staples around for the next gen, ensuring a staunch local economy and job scene.