Employee Ownership Resources and Educational Programming

Colorado Employee Ownership Office Resources

"Intro to Employee Ownership” course

To learn more about the benefits and employee ownership options, the Colorado Employee Ownership Office has produced an introductory course. This is a free online course available on demand and accessible to Colorado-headquartered small business owners interested in investigating employee ownership. To get started with this introductory course, navigate to the “to strengthen” track of the Small Business Educational Programming page and click on the “Introduction to Employee Ownership” course to instantly enroll in the course. After completing the course, you will be able to "connect with a consultant" to learn more about next steps on your conversion journey and receive a referral to an employee-ownership organization.

Exit Planning for your Business

To learn more about Exit and Succession Planning, the Employee Ownership Office has produced an introductory course. This is a free online course available on demand and accessible to Colorado-headquartered small business owners interested in learning why succession planning is essential to your current business strategy, how to think about the real value of your business, and learning the basics of business valuation. To get started with this introductory course, navigate to the “to strengthen” track of the Small Business Educational Programming page and click on the “Exit Planning for your Business” course to instantly enroll in the course. As you work through the course, there will be points where you will need to schedule time to speak with a Colorado Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Consultant. The Consultant’s role is to assist with calculations and estimates, answer questions, and offer additional guidance as needed. You can request consulting for this program and others through your local SBDC.

In 2022, the office partnered with the Exit Planning Institute to release the Colorado State of Owner Readiness Report, (PDF) and Quicklook Brochure, (PDF) to provide insight into how prepared Colorado businesses are to transition ownership, including selling to employees.

If you would like to be added to the database of Service Providers and Technical Assistance Providers to stay informed on the deployment of future programming in the succession, exit, and continuity planning spaces, please complete the Service Providers Registration.

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The following resources are available to Colorado business owners, free of charge, from third parties. We encourage you to learn more about how employee ownership can benefit your business and your employees, while sustaining strong communities across our state.

External Resources List

Founded in 2012, the Rocky Mountain Employee Ownership Center (RMEOC) is the oldest worker-cooperative development organization in Colorado. RMEOC supports the launch and conversion of worker-cooperative businesses across Colorado. Leveraging experienced staff and a strong referral network of service providers, RMEOC serves as a one-stop-shop to support business owners with feasibility studies, business planning, employee ownership workshops, and resource referrals. Register for a monthly webinar, schedule a free one-on-one consultation, or visit their resources page to learn more.

“Who should own your business after you?” If you are like most business owners, you may not have an answer to this important question! Check out the resource guide, created in collaboration with the Colorado Employee Ownership Office, the National Center for Employee Ownership, the Center for Community Wealth Building, and the Rocky Mountain Employee Ownership Center, to take a look at why hundreds of Colorado business owners sell their business to their employees. The guide features case studies on employee ownership conversions by Fancy Tiger Crafts (co-op), Community Language Cooperative, Hercules Industries (ESOP), and Applewood Seed Company (ESOP). 

When the NCEO was founded in 1981, there weren't many other organizations active in the field. Now, however, there are many players, often focusing on a particular aspect of employee ownership or a particular country or region. Learn more on the Who's Who in ESOP and Employee Ownership webpage for a current breakdown of the scene.

For over 43 years, The ESOP Association (TEA) has successfully represented the interests of millions of Employee Owners and their companies in Washington, DC and state capitals across the nation. Their mission is to educate and advocate for employee ownership with an emphasis on ESOPs. Learn more about, What Is An ESOP and more quick facts on the ESOP Association webpage. The Rocky Mountain Chapter of The ESOP Association is made up of more than 90 ESOP companies and professional service providers in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming.

The Employee Ownership Foundation (EOF) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the employee ownership model of business. Check out the EOF Education & Information page where business owners can find 19 different articles covering the major topics related to ESOPs. The Employee Ownership Foundation webpage for Business Succession Planning features EOF’s business succession video series, touching on the conversion process and business preparedness features EOF’s business succession video series, touching on the conversion process and business preparedness.

Certified Employee-Owned (EO) exists to help build an employee-owned economy. By setting a standard people know and trust, Certified EO amplifies the voice of employee ownership. They maintain tools that create visibility including an updated directory of every employee-owned business in the U.S. and EO Jobs, a job board with over 9,000 open positions at EO companies. Certified EO also works directly with employee-owned companies to provide them the tools and playbook they need to share their ownership story. Certified EO currently has over 600 employee-owned members.

Carta's mission is to create more owners. They have products and services to automate and maintain capitalization tables, a fundamental tool for any company with shared equity. Check out Carta’s LLC Blueprints, a first-of-its kind free interactive resource to help LLCs understand how to transition employees into employee owners. More information on this resource can be viewed in the webinar titled: Unlock the Power of Ownership: Equity Plans Decoded With Carta’s LLC Blueprints.  

CSG has launched a Colorado Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) Awareness & Education Campaign to enhance ESOP literacy, drive Colorado Employee Ownership Tax Credit awareness, and share information on ESOP financing with the Cash Collateral Support program. Check out this series of free webinars featuring members of the Colorado Employee Ownership Commission.

Prairie is a leading financial advisory firm specializing in creating and executing ownership transition strategies for middle-market companies nationwide. For over 25 years, Prairie has helped hundreds of companies structure, value and sustain their ESOP, with many in Colorado. Serving over 300 clients annually in a wide range of industries, their professionals have the expertise and experience to serve ESOP companies throughout their lifecycle. Prairie’s mission is to provide every client with independent advice and highly personalized service that helps them meet their objectives and maximize shareholder value. Prairie offers a free Resource & Insights page where you can learn more about employee ownership through webinars, articles, and a video.

Since 1997, PCE has blended the sophistication of a full-service investment bank with the personal touch of a boutique firm. They specialize in growth strategies, exit events, valuations, and employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs). Their expertise spans traditional merger and acquisition transactions and ESOP liquidity strategies, ensuring they present all potential liquidity options to their clients. By implementing a collaborative approach, they craft the right strategy to get the business owner the best results. With a network of five offices across the US, including Denver, CO, they stand poised to assist clients from coast to coast. PCE prioritizes client education to empower decision-makers throughout the transaction process. Visit their resource page to learn more about ESOP liquidity strategies and merger and acquisition transactions.

ESOP One provides software solutions to support companies with an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). Their proprietary solution provides employee stock valuation, company financial modeling, human resource communications, and digital document storage. ESOP One makes engaging, motivating, and educating your employee-owners simple. They come alongside your existing TPA to illustrate the long-term value of your ESOP while alleviating the administrative burdens of education and communication. To view a quick preview of their platform, click here.

This course from Rutgers University's Institute for the Study of Employee Ownership and Profit Sharing introduces employee share ownership to business owners, employees, and anyone interested in building a more equitable economy. The course consists of a series of short, engaging videos presented by 15 experts, including a Colorado Employee Ownership Commissioner, which students can view at their own pace. The course is free. Register with Coursera (click "Join for Free") for full access.

Taking this course, employees will discover how gaining an ownership stake in the business where they work can build wealth on top of wages alone. Business owners will discover how employee share ownership can improve productivity and provide a succession strategy. Those interested in creating an employee stock ownership plan or worker cooperative will learn which questions to ask, where to go for assistance, and how to navigate the conversion. 

Building a startup is hard and the failure rates for startups are awfully high. From studying entrepreneurship and innovation, starting their own businesses, and running a business accelerator, Start.coop knows that there are things you can do to help you thrive and increase your business’ odds of success. They created Lean Co-op, a free course that helps you do just that. By combining the best of the values-aligned cooperative ownership with the lean start-up approach they will share with you some of the best practices that entrepreneurs in our accelerator use to lay a solid foundation upon which they can build a robust business. This course comprises 6 modules and is available to you free of charge.

The Northwest Cooperative Development Center has created an interactive online learning course for worker cooperative members to learn more about the 7 cooperative principles. The root of these principles is traced to the Rochdale, England pioneers, who established the first modern cooperative in 1844. The principles were adopted by the International Cooperative Alliance in 1995 as part of their Statement on the Cooperative Identity. These principles define all aspects of a cooperative entity, and you can learn more about how these principles can guide your own cooperative to success by engaging with the free educational content.

Connect Further

Service Providers

If you are a service provider and/or technical assistance provider with a resource that you feel would be helpful to Colorado business owners assessing an employee ownership conversion or formation, please register as a service provider by completing the Service Providers Registration form.

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