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Ownership America Testifies Before Massachusetts Legislature on State Center Bills

Ownership America was pleased to testify in support of “An Act Enabling the Massachusetts Center for Employee Ownership” (H.511/S.261) in a recent hearing before the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies of the Massachusetts legislature. Sponsored by Representative Mike Gentile of Sudbury and Senator Julian Cyr of the Cape & Islands in their respective chambers, the legislation would authorize a permanent Massachusetts Center for Employee Ownership (MassCEO) in the Commonwealth’s Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development. The purpose of the office would be to provide public outreach and technical assistance to business owners exploring business succession, ensure the growth of employee-owned businesses in the state, and publicize the benefits of employee owners to policymakers and the general public.

“With this legislation, this Committee has the opportunity to remove a key barrier to employee ownership adoption–awareness on the part of business owners that are getting ready to retire and sell their business,” Ownership America Executive Director Jack Moriarty told the Committee. “According to data published by Project Equity, Massachusetts is home to over 68,000 businesses that have an owner in the baby boomer demographic. If even a fraction of these exiting owners pursued employee ownership as their business exit strategy, the potential impact on workers, communities, and the overall Massachusetts economy would be extraordinary.”

Moriarty was joined by Mass Bay Brewing Company (a.k.a Harpoon Brewery) Co-Founder & CEO  Dan Kenary who shared his strong support of employee ownership:

“​​Imagine what it would look like if many of the businesses in Massachusetts were owned by their employees: The local economy would be more vibrant and deliver higher productivity. The wealth created would be shared more widely, leading to more broadly based prosperity. The employee-owned companies would be less likely to move away and their employees would be less likely than others to be laid off during a recession. You would have the opportunity to champion an economic program that enjoys broad bipartisan and public support.”

Kenary led Mass Bay Brewing to become a 48% employee-owned company through an ESOP in 2014. Other witnesses in favor of employee ownership included former State Senator David Magnani of Framingham, who sponsored the original legislation that created a prior iteration of the state office. His lead staffer on the legislation at the time? None other than current President of the Massachusetts Senate Karen Spilka. Testimony was also provided by Christopher Mackin, who previously ran the office before it was cut in the wake of the 2008 recession. There was no opposition registered for the bills, which now await advancement by the Joint Committee.

You can watch the hearing recording here: https://malegislature.gov/Events/Hearings/Detail/3999