Soon-to-retire Baby Boomers In Western North Carolina Own ½ Of All Privately-held Businesses

Transitioning to employee-owned companies offers tangible solution to region's "silver tsunami"

Press Release ( - ASHEVILLE, N.C. - May 02, 2017 - The Industrial Commons and its national partner Project Equity, announced today that almost ½ of Western North Carolina small businesses are owned by aging baby boomers, demonstrating which small businesses in the WNC region are most vulnerable to permanently closing business or consolidating within a few years. It also identifies industries to be impacted and the vast numbers of employees affected. The data is being released in an effort to demonstrate the opportunity for these WNC small businesses to transition to employee-owned companies.

“It has been in the face economic loss that we asked ‘how can we bring WORK back differently?’ The Industrial Commons is dedicated to building a new vision of southern labor by rooting equity and workplace democracy in local businesses.” – Molly Hemstreet, Co-founder The Industrial Commons and Opportunity Threads.

Project Equity, a nonprofit that fosters local economic resiliency, compiled the data as part of a broader national data presentation to educate the workforce and small business communities about the coming “silver tsunami” of businesses at risk of closure or consolidation. “This data reveals how local businesses in WNC could be affected; it’s clear that not only will employees be impacted but so too will industries,” said Alison Lingane, co-founder, Project Equity. “While it’s important to draw attention to the data and its implications, it’s necessary that everyone also understand that we have a real possibility to sustain small businesses over the long term by transitioning some of them to broad-based employee ownership.” Small businesses provide 46% of all jobs in the WNC region, so this ownership changeover risks not only the loss of local business ownership, but also job loss, and local business tax base. “Employee ownership is one of the best ways to keep thriving businesses locally rooted into the next generation.”

The data presentation aims to make the business ownership changeover tactile and shows over 12,000  privately-held businesses with employees—44.7% of the total—spread across the 28 WNC counties and segmented by industry. The data presentation also estimates  132,000 employees, and $26.6B in total sales and $4B in payroll, of these companies, to help paint the picture of the true impact of potential business closure or consolidation. The data are drawn from the U.S. Census 2012 Survey of Business Owners.

“Looking at the manufacturing data, it is clear that growing more employee-owned businesses is a viable solution, if not a crucial one,” says Franzi Charen, co-founder of The Industrial Commons. The Industrial Commons points to the region’s once thriving textile industry and cities that within Western North Carolina, the heritage industry resurgence is underway. “The opportunity to create employment through employee-owned businesses will harness industry knowledge and expertise while increasing access to locally-rooted wealth” Charen added.



Source : Project Equity

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