Board nominations are now open!

Graphic with photo of a multiracial, multigender group wearing cold weather clothing standing in the middle of a downtown street. Next to the photo are the words “2023 board elections. Nominations for the USFWC Board of Directors are open! Nominate someone from your workplace or a fellow member workplace before Monday, August 7th. “

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Are you ready to lead the USFWC’s mission to build a thriving ecosystem for worker cooperatives and their leaders? Run for the USFWC Board of Directors!

Nominations for the USFWC Board of Directors are now open. In 2023, USWFC members will elect five At-Large Directors. One of them could be you or someone from your workplace.

Know a great candidate? Recommend them! USFWC member organizations can recommend a candidate using this form.

Ready to run? Nominate yourself! Individuals can self-nominate by filling out this form.

For more information, including candidate and workplace eligibility, visit our nominations page.

Congress introduces bipartisan, bicameral bill to drive investment in worker ownership

On May 15th, Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN) and Senator Van Hollen (D-MD) led the effort to introduce this bipartisan, bicameral legislation to reduce barriers to small business owners who are transferring ownership to worker co-ops and ESOPs.

In recent years, there has been an uptick in interest in conversions to worker co-ops and ESOPs. Nearly half of all private businesses are owned by individuals who are at or near retirement age, and together, those businesses employ more than 32 million workers across 2.9 million businesses. Fewer than 15% of owners who are expected to retire over the next decade have a succession plan in place, leading to loss of jobs and businesses because the business closes or is merged into a larger business that is not anchored in the community. The Employee Equity Investment Act (EEIA, HR3383, S1618) will preserve jobs and build wealth for workers by converting those businesses to worker ownership.

The EEIA would mobilize Small Business Investment Companies (SBICs) to reduce the burden on seller financing to create more worker co-ops and ESOPs by allowing a zero-subsidy, or zero interest, investments in businesses formed under one of these two business models. The vision of this bill is to double the number of U.S. employee owners over the next decade creating a more dynamically competitive, inclusive, and resilient American capitalism.

The program:

  • creates a special type of SBIC called an Employee Equity Investment Company (EEIC) that requires 50% or more of their investments must be transactions that create new employee-owned businesses, and requires that those investments do not exert any control over the business they have invested in
  • creates a training program for SBICs that are new to worker co-ops and ESOPs to become an EEIC
  • requires the EEIC to work with an advisor with 5+ years experience of working with worker co-ops or ESOPs
  • requires an annual report on this program
  • affirms the Main Street Employee Ownership Act by creating an office of Employee Ownership within the Small Business Administration (SBA) to provide education, outreach, and technical assistance resources for conversions, as well as assist in conversions.
  • Additionally, the EEIA requires reporting on this program as well as evaluation of barriers to access to procurement programs for employee owned businesses.

“My family taught me that business is a means to an end; and that end is ensuring success is shared with the people and communities who help create it,” said Rep. Phillips, whose great-grandfather, Jay Phillips, created one of the first employee profit sharing plans in the country in 1944. “Over the coming years, millions of small business owners will reach retirement age and sell to competitors or other buyers in the mergers and acquisitions market – which often results in jobs leaving the communities that rely on them. Expanding opportunities for employee ownership will help keep businesses and jobs in local communities, allow American workers to build wealth for their families, and result in more sustainable and resilient communities. Employee ownership is both good business and good for business.”

“American workers are the true power behind our economy. By investing in employee ownership, we’re investing in our workers and putting more of their hard-earned dollars back in their pockets, instead of sending U.S. profits overseas. This bipartisan bill will offer up-for-sale businesses the tools to transition to employee ownership – empowering workers and keeping jobs and opportunity here at home,” said Senator Van Hollen.

“Worker co-ops are often overlooked when it comes to financial products and business opportunities in the U.S., usually because government and financial institutions don’t have much familiarity with the model.” said USFWC Executive Director, Esteban Kelly. “It is exciting to envision a U.S. small business landscape that centralizes worker ownership and voice. We thank Rep. Phillips, Senator Van Hollen, and the bipartisan team of legislators who recognize the importance of building wealth for workers, saving jobs, and investing in small businesses that anchor our communities and make local economies strong.”

The EEIA is cosponsored by Sens. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Todd Young (R-IN), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Mike Braun (R-IN) and Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Reps. Blake Moore (R-UT-1), Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA-6), Jill Toduka (D-HI-2), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-1), Mark Pocan (D-WI-2), Dan Meuser (R-PA-9) and Dusty Johnson (R-SD)


List of Small Business Investment Companies

Full EEIA text is available here.



Funding Opportunity open for Tech Hubs program

The Economic Development Administration has opened up the funding opportunity for the Tech Hubs program. This is an opportunity for the cooperative development community to help to shape tech and manufacturing business development strategies across the country and access federal funding to do so. This post contains background information on the Tech Hubs program, the


Last year the Chips and Science Act was passed, which spotlights the importance of worker ownership and solidifies its role in developing technology and manufacturing businesses in the United States.

One of the flagship programs of this Act is the Regional Technology and Innovation Hub Program – now known as the Tech Hubs program. Because of the USFWC’s advocacy for worker co-ops in Congress, worker ownership development centers and associations are named as allowable partners in the creation of regional technology and innovation strategies. $500 million has been appropriated to launch this program.


Key goals for the program:

  • Expanding Regional Economic Opportunity and Democratizing Technology Innovation
  • Driving Economic Opportunity and Inclusive Economic Growth
  • Building a Skilled, Diverse Workforce and Supply Chain


The Tech Hubs program is an important opportunity to infuse worker ownership and democratic workplace practices into a central program of the federal government. The USFWC believes that worker cooperatives are a tool that should be in the toolbelt of economic development strategies. The EDA expects Tech Hubs projects to advance equity to underserved and underrepresented populations, to provide for inclusive community engagement, and for economic benefits of the project will be shared by all communities in the project area, including any underserved communities. As a movement that serves as a driver for habitually underserved and underrepresented communities, the USFWC encourages its members and community to engage with these consortia so that we may lead these projects with our values.


Watch our webinar with the office of Rep. Jamaal Bowman, champion of worker ownership in the CHIPS and Science Act, to understand this program and how to become a part of these regional tech and innovation strategies.



Who is this for?

Only consortia are eligible, and each consortium has certain required and optional entity types. Regional consortia could include various combinations that include academia, private sector, government, federal labs, and unions, among others.

  • Employee ownership membership associations
  • State or local employee ownerships and cooperative development centers and
  • financial institutions and investment funds

are among the optional entity types. The eligible organizations listed above should reach out the USFWC and look to collaborate with the regional anchor institution in their region. If you are interested in becoming a part of a consortia in your region, reach out to to get more information and learn if your area is organizing a consortia.


Funding opportunity now open

On May 12, 2023, EDA published the Tech Hubs Phase 1 Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) (PDF)—the first of two phases.

PHASE 1 – Strategy Development Grants (Deadline: August 15, 2023)
EDA will designate at least 20 Tech Hubs across the country and will separately award approximately $15 million in strategy development grants to accelerate the development of future Tech Hubs. The Tech Hubs designation will be a widely recognized indicator of a region’s potential for rapid technology-led economic growth. Strategy Development Grants may fund the following types of activities:

  1. Developing a comprehensive regional technology strategy;
  2. Identification of regional partnerships;
  3. Assessments to determine regional needs and capabilities;
  4. Development or updating of goals and strategies to implement an existing comprehensive regional plan;
  5. Identification or implementation of planning, local zoning, and other changes to code, law, or policy necessary;
  6. Development of plans for promoting broad-based economic growth, creating good paying jobs, assessing job quality, and helping students and workers gain the skills for, secure, and advance in good jobs and careers;
  7. Hiring of the coalition’s Regional Innovation Officer to lead the overall effort.

The EDA is particularly interested in proposals that focus on the following areas:

  • Supporting small and rural businesses
  • Promoting diversity and inclusion in the tech sector
  • Addressing workforce development needs

EDA will host an informational webinar on May 18 about the Tech Hubs Program Phase 1 NOFO. Click here to register for the webinar.

PHASE 2 (EDA expects to release the Phase 2 NOFO in Fall 2023.)
In Phase 2, EDA will make at least 5 implementation awards to designated EDA Tech Hubs. Only Tech Hubs that EDA designates during Phase 1 are eligible to apply for Phase 2.

Press release: Biden-Harris Administration Launches First Tech Hubs Funding Opportunity


Steps to engagement in the Tech Hubs program:

  1. Read the fact sheet about the program and the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO).
  2. Watch our info webinar above and review resources from that session.
  3. Register for the EDA’s informational webinar on May 18 about the Tech Hubs Program.
  4. If you are interested in becoming a part of a consortia in your region, reach out to to get more information and learn if your area is organizing a consortia.



If you value the USFWC’s work to advocate for and elevate these opportunities, please consider donating to support our efforts.

Ambitious employee ownership legislation signed into law in Washington state.

On Tuesday, May 9, 2023, Governor Inslee signed into law SB 5096, expanding employee ownership in Washington State. This bipartisan legislation led by State Senator Mike Padden (R-Spokane) and Senate Majority Leader Jamie Pedersen (D-Seattle) is among the most ambitious state employee ownership legislation to date, and it passed both chambers unanimously with no opposition. The USFWC is proud to have supported this effort, driven by partners at Ownership America and including support along the way from the Northwest Cooperative Development Center, Project Equity, and the Employee Ownership Expansion Network. 

The act will create:

  • the Washington Employee Ownership Program with the Washington Department of Commerce;
  • an Employee Ownership Commission with seats appointed by the Governor and legislative leaders;
  • a tax credit for feasibility studies;
  • clarification that State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) funding for the State of Washington maybe be used to finance employee ownership use cases;
  • a revolving loan fund to support the financing of conversions without a personal guarantee requirement – a troublesome issue cooperatives face in accessing the Small Business Administration (SBA)’s loan programs.

The Washington Employee Ownership program will convene a network of technical support and service providers, work with state agencies whose regulations and programs affect employee-owned businesses, partner with external service providers and organizations to make Washington State a fertile ground for employee ownership, and curate a service provider referral service. 

“SB 5096 builds upon the successes of like-minded initiatives in other states including Colorado, California, and Massachusetts, showing that the worker ownership movement is agile, is growing fast, and is learning even faster,” said USFWC Policy Director Mo Manklang. “Worker co-ops and ESOPs have clear support from legislators from across the political spectrum, across the country, in rural and urban geographies. This support illustrates what we know – worker ownership works. It builds wealth, creates opportunity for dedicated workers, creates avenues for leadership development and skill-building, and anchors businesses in their communities.” 

“This bipartisan legislation marks another significant milestone for the employee ownership movement, said Ownership America Founder and Executive Director Jack Moriarty. “By investing in public outreach and technical assistance, feasibility study incentives for multiple forms of employee ownership, and in addressing capital access issues, Washington is now well-positioned to grow an already impressive footprint of employee-owned businesses in the coming years.”

Co-Director of NWCDC, Dr. John McNamara comments, “This law puts Washington at the forefront of the movement towards worker ownership. SB 5096 will support building resilient local economies whether they are in Walla Walla or Seattle’s Central District. By supporting the ability of workers to control their economic destiny, Washington will be creating pathways to the next generation of ownership at a time when many small business owners are facing retirement without a clear succession plan.”


Read the full bill here

Watch the bill signing here

Highlights from our Member Councils and Peer Networks – May 2023

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Our Member Councils and Peer Networks are shaping the future of the worker co-op movement in the U.S. through offers and needs markets, collective education & learning and political advocacy for a worker-centered economy.  Here are the highlights for this month from some of our Councils & Networks:

  • Union Co-ops CouncilThe Union Co-ops Council heard from Ra Criscitiello and Sanjay Pinto about an exciting new open resource, the Anti-Racist Facilitation Guide to Co-op Development, which includes a module on union co-ops. You can download the resource at – check it out!
  • Policy & Advocacy Council – The P&A Council dug into our advocacy resources, available to all members to support efforts to share the worker ownership model, and got a first look at our new Advocacy Toolkit, which will be released later this month. Email for access.
  • International Council – The International Council held its second official meeting of its Executive Committee and is looking forward to recruiting members at the Spring Membership Meeting. Register here for the meeting.  During the second half of 2023, the council will be hosting a short webinar series about the international cooperative ecosystem. Be on the lookout for an invitation in future member emails!
  • Racial & Economic Justice Council – Later this year, we will be re-launching the Racial & Economic Justice Council. This will be a space for members to come together and share issues they are working on and organize with each other – learn more at the USFWC Spring Member Meeting May 24th.
  • Movimiento de Inmigrantes en las CooperativasWe are re-launching Movimiento de Inmigrantes en Cooperativas – our Spanish language immigrant worker-owner Member Council this year at the Spring Member Meeting on May 24th. Want to learn more? Make sure to register for the meeting now!


  • Co-op Booksellers Peer NetworkThe booksellers’ monthly meeting had discussion around curation, increasing traffic, co-op operating agreements and onboarding. The group continues to meet on the first Fridays at 4pm ET.
  • Federation Partners Peer NetworkAt the quarterly meeting, the Federation Partners discussed how to assess their worker co-op ecosystems using the Democracy at Work Institute’s tool.
  • Co-op Academies Peer NetworkThe next Co-op Academies Peer Network meeting will be on Monday May 22nd at 3:30pm ET, and the main topic will be on setting expectations around workloads for academy participants.

Members, be sure to register for our USFWC Virtual Spring Member Meeting May 24th to hear more from your Member Councils and help shape their future work!