Gov. Polis Announces Four New Employee-Owned Companies, Pioneering New Workforce Trend in Colorado

Today, the Polis Administration and the Colorado Employee Ownership Office, housed within the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT), announced four new businesses transitioning to employee-ownership with the help of the Employee Ownership Office including Idaho Springs’ Beau Jo’s Pizza. These conversions are part of a growing trend of employee-ownership in Colorado and continue the work of the Polis Administration to save businesses money while ensuring that everyone can benefit when a business thrives.

“Colorado is a proud and early adopter of employee ownership and this emerging workforce trend helps businesses share their successes with their workers. Our administration will continue working to save businesses money and support employee ownership so that everyone can benefit when a business thrives,” said Governor Polis.

Popular Front Range pizzeria Beau Jo’s, which recently marked its 50th anniversary, celebrated its move to employee ownership April 1 and will make the conversion to an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) with assistance from the Employee Ownership Tax Credit. The tax credit offsets up to 50% of qualified costs associated with the transition to ESOPs, worker-owned cooperatives, and employee ownership trusts. Top Notch Logworks, which announced its transition to an ESOP in October 2022, became the first Colorado company to receive the Employee Ownership Tax Credit in March 2023.

Three additional companies announced today transitioned to Limited Cooperative Associations (LCA) with assistance from the Employee Ownership grant, which reimburses up to $3,000 of expenses associated with the transition to employee ownership:

  • Itchy-O, Denver
  • La Casa Del Mitote, Denver
  • Voting Our Interests Cooperative Environment, Aurora

“These companies have recognized the many benefits of transitioning to employee ownership, including a more engaged workforce, a way to attract and retain top talent and a guaranteed succession plan. We are pleased to support their commitment to business models that benefit workers and contribute to a strong and competitive Colorado economy,” said Eve Lieberman, Executive Director of OEDIT.

Since 2021, 57 Colorado companies have converted to Employee Ownership models. This is a significant increase over observed trends of one to three per year prior to the launch of the grant and other Employee Ownership Office initiatives.

“Colorado has developed a reputation as a national leader in Employee Ownership through the work of our office and the Commission. Our goal is to offer pathways to succession that allow businesses to grow and the legacies of their original owners to live on. We are currently advancing legislation to broaden the allowable models under the employee ownership tax credit to ensure that more businesses and employees benefit from employee ownership,” said Nikki Maloney, OEDIT’s Director of Business Support.

To continue promoting employee ownership within Colorado, the EO Grant is one of several tools provided by the Employee Ownership Office to help Colorado business owners explore associated benefits. The Office recently launched an online course to help business owners understand, explore, and pursue employee-owned business structures.

From the State of Owner Readiness Survey conducted last year with the Exit Planning Institute, many Colorado business owners who hope to sell their businesses within the next 10 years aren’t familiar with all of their options. The Introduction to Employee Ownership course helps owners understand a wider range of options and the benefits of employee ownership, so these owners can transition out of their businesses, realize the economic benefits of their hard work, and retain jobs across the state.

The U.S. will soon enter a generational workforce transition period where Baby Boomers are expected to retire. In Colorado, over 1 million people are employed by small businesses while 76% of small businesses are owned by Baby Boomers. Retaining these small businesses will preserve jobs across the state.

Business owners who want to learn more about the Employee Ownership course are encouraged to visit the website to learn more. The online course is free and available to participants at any time. To apply for open funding opportunities, visit the Employee Ownership Grant and Employee Ownership Tax Credit webpages.

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