Apr 03, 2024

Unlocking business potential with the Iowa Center for Employee Ownership

In an era where empowering workers and building sustainable communities is paramount, the Iowa Center for Employee Ownership (IA-CEO) is a beacon of innovation and resilience. Launched in May 2023, IA-CEO is a program of Advance Iowa at the University of Northern Iowa and represents a pivotal addition to the Employee Ownership Expansion (EOX) network as the 21st state center committed to transforming the landscape of business ownership and employee empowerment. The program offers workshops, an annual conference and direct support to those interested in learning more about the employee ownership model.

IA-CEO recognizes the impact employee ownership has on businesses and communities alike. Data reveals that a staggering 79 percent of small-to-medium-sized Iowa businesses are poised for transition due to retiring baby boomers, and the threat of closures or relocations looms large, especially for rural areas. IA-CEO's mission is to counter this trend by facilitating the shift towards employee ownership models, such as worker cooperatives, employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs) and other shared equity structures. This approach not only anchors businesses within their communities but also enhances economic resilience, promotes job satisfaction and fosters generational wealth accumulation among workers.

IA-CEO conference

“Employee ownership serves as a versatile solution to a myriad of challenges facing today's businesses,” said Paul Kinghorn, director of Advance Iowa. “From stabilizing employment and ensuring business continuity to enhancing local economic prosperity, the benefits are manifold. Employees enjoy better pay, benefits and job satisfaction, while businesses experience higher productivity, growth and longevity. Moreover, this model champions economic equity, offering viable pathways to wealth for working families, particularly in rural and underserved communities.”

Targeting primarily businesses in rural communities, IA-CEO is dedicated to preserving local economic prosperity, creating wealth for employees, and ensuring the vitality of Iowa's communities. This initiative is not just about business transitions; it's about nurturing a future where companies and communities thrive together in mutual support and prosperity.

As the landscape of business and community development evolves, IA-CEO stands ready to guide Iowa toward a brighter, more inclusive tomorrow.  Reach out to info@advanceiowa.com to discover how employee ownership can redefine success for your business and community, marking a step towards a more equitable and resilient future.