Employment and Jobs

How the Centennial State Is Leading on Employee Ownership: A Profile of Colorado’s Employee Ownership Office

May 31, 2023  • Merrit Stüven & Matt Helmer

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Employee ownership, such as employee stock ownership plans and worker-owned cooperatives, has emerged as a catalyst for fostering successful businesses, advancing racial and gender equity, and tackling the persistent issues of poor job quality and wealth inequity. Employee-owned firms often create a host of benefits compared to similar, non-employee-owned companies, including improved compensation, enhanced working conditions, reduced turnover, and greater resilience during challenging economic times. However, despite its potential, employee ownership remains a relatively small component of the US economy, and awareness about employee ownership is relatively low. A unique opportunity for expansion is at hand, as six out of 10 business owners across the US intend to sell their business in the next decade as they prepare for retirement.

State centers of employee ownership are emerging to help address these challenges and capitalize on this opportunity for expansion. These centers work to promote employee ownership and educate business owners and workers about the different options available. In this brief, we discuss the strategies and practices implemented by Colorado’s Employee Ownership Office to better understand how employee ownership can be supported and grown. We hope this profile will help inform other state centers’ practices and the government’s role in supporting state centers, particularly as more centers emerge through funding provided by the recently passed Worker Ownership, Readiness, and Knowledge (WORK) Act.


Workers in #employeeowned firms often have better pay, more voice in the workplace, and better working conditions.

In its latest profile, @AspenJobQuality focuses on Colorado, as it’s captured national attention for its innovative work promoting employee ownership and establishing financial and technical support for businesses transitioning into #employeeownership.

#Employeeownership advocates often cite a lack of awareness and understanding among business owners as a major obstacle to expanding employee ownership. @MattHelmer and @Merrit_St explore initiatives working to heighten awareness @AspenJobQuality.

In reintroducing the WORK Act in Congress and establishing the Employee Ownership Commission @jaredpolis positioned Colorado at the forefront of expanding #employeeownership in the US. Learn more on @AspenJobQuality’s latest profile.

An opportunity to embrace #employeeownership is at hand, as six out of 10 business owners nationally report that they plan to sell their business in the next decade. Learn more @AspenJobQuality

“Most business owners are passionate about not only the business that they’ve built but the people that have worked to help them get to this point.” — Nikki Maloney, Colorado’s Economic Opportunity Office

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The Economic Opportunities Program advances strategies, policies, and ideas to help low- and moderate-income people thrive in a changing economy. Follow us on social media and join our mailing list to stay up-to-date on publications, blog posts, events, and other announcements.

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