Vermont Employee Ownership Center Announces Formation of Board

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Vermont Employee Ownership Center Announces Formation of Board

Sun, 06/02/2002 - 8:00pm -- tim

The Vermont Employee Ownership Center (VEOC) announces the formation of its founding board. Cindy Turcot, Chief Financial Officer of Gardener’s Supply Company, was elected Board Chair. "At a time when the Vermont economy is faced with business shutdowns by out-of-state owners, it is clear we need a new model for business development and growth," said
Turcot. "We must recognize that the strength of the Vermont economy is built on strong, locally-owned businesses."
The Vermont Employee Ownership Center is a new statewide non-profit organization whose mission is to promote and foster employee ownership in
order to broaden capital ownership, deepen employee participation, retain jobs, increase living standards for working families, and stabilize communities. The Center will provide information and resources to owners interested in selling their business to their employees, employee groups interested in purchasing a business, and entrepreneurs who wish to start-up a company with broadly shared ownership.
"Extensive research has proven that employee-owned businesses out-perform and are more sustainable than their competitors in the same industries. There couldn’t be a better time to give Vermonters back control of their economic future with a proven model of business ownership: employee ownership," states Chair Turcot.
The Center is modeled on the highly successful Ohio Employee Ownership Center, whose staff will advise the Vermont Center’s staff in its early
years. The Board plans to launch the Center in the fall, and has embarked on an effort to raise seed funding to match a $100,000 appropriation from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development that was secured by Rep. Bernard Sanders.
The Center has already been involved in three efforts to save Vermont jobs, with initial staffing provided by Don Jamison of the Burlington Community Land Trust. In Island Pond, the Center has provided assistance to the Island Pond Woodworkers Alliance, a group of thirty workers who were laid off last summer when an Ethan Allen Furniture factory was closed. The Alliance is developing plans to open a new wood products business. In Springfield, the Center helped a United Electrical Workers local representing out-of-work employees of Bryant Grinder and Fellows Corporation raise funds and hire consultants to research feasibility of an employee purchase of those companies. In Waterbury, a group of ten
employees recently purchased Topline Marketing from its founder, thanks to preliminary assistance from the Center.
The Center also succeeded in inserting an amendment into legislation recently signed into law by Governor Howard Dean. This revision of the statute governing Professional Corporations will allow Employee Stock Ownership Plans in such corporations, provided they are permitted by the profession’s own governing bodies. This change makes it possible for an
architectural firm, for example, to share some of the increase in the value of the firm with non-professional employees. Attorney Steve Magowan, a partner in the law firm of Gravel and Shea, identified the need for this change in the law, and developed the language that made its way into the legislation.
The other members of the VEOC board are: Bruce Seifer, Assistant Director for Economic Development in Burlington’s Community and Economic
Development Office (Vice Chair); Mary Houghton, Finance Director of the
Burlington Community Land Trust (Secretary and Treasurer); George Clain, President and Assistant Business Manager of Local 300, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers; Jon Crystal, Assistant Vice President
at the University of Vermont; Wayne Fawbush, Executive Director of the
Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund; Michael Gurdon, Professor of Business
Administration at the University of Vermont; Pam Greene, Executive Director of the Women’s Small Business Program; and Paul Millman, Vice President of Chroma Technology Corporation.