Press Release

Press Release: Succession Planning Help Offered to Local Small Businesses

Business owners of the city’s longest-running businesses to benefit from succession planning and introduction to employee ownership

Project Equity, a national organization in the movement to harness employee ownership to maintain thriving local business communities and address income and wealth inequality, together with the San Francisco Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD) recently announced a partnership to offer San Francisco’s small business owners a business succession support program.

The new business succession program led by Project Equity will help San Francisco businesses stay rooted in the City, and help their owners not only retire well, but be in control of their own succession planning. This program helps business owners learn about a less familiar but highly practical option of employee ownership succession.

A Path to Sustain Small Businesses

Small business owners, particularly those with a goal of retiring in the next one to five years, will learn which options are available to them – in place of closing the business or selling to an out-of-area buyer – encompassing family transitions, a local sale and employee ownership.

Extensive information about selling to employees through a third-party funded transaction will be shared, given the lower familiarity with this approach and its tremendous benefits to businesses, employees and the community. Employee ownership succession gives business owners the ability to derive a market-rate return and to sell on their own timeline. The objective is to sustain the business’ legacy, to create opportunity for long-time loyal employees and to preserve jobs and business assets in San Francisco.

Employee Ownerships: Rooted in San Francisco

San Francisco is home to an estimated 50 employee-owned businesses structured as Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs) or worker-owned cooperatives, many of them well known and long established. Recology may have the biggest name recognition, being the recycling and trash service for San Francisco households and businesses. Other consumer-facing employee-owned businesses include Rainbow Grocery, Other Avenues Food Cooperative, Arizmendi Bakeries, Box Dog Bikes and Home Green Home Cleaning. Larger business-to-business companies also utilize employee ownership as a powerful business succession and employee retention tool, including Skyline Construction and California Shower Door as just two of many examples. This year, San Francisco’s newest employee-owned company, Rickman. et. al., was formed with the help of Project Equity.

San Francisco among a Group of Trailblazing Cities 

San Francisco joins other trailblazing California cities that have recently established new programs to drive small business retention. Specifically, Project Equity has partnered with the cities of Fremont, Berkeley and Long Beach to bring business succession and employee ownership planning to small business owners.

“We want to help small business owners move succession planning from being on the ‘tomorrow to do list’ to being on today’s to do list,” said Project Equity co-founder, Alison Lingane. “We’ve seen San Francisco businesses liquidate because they waited too long and health or other issues got in the way. Employee ownership, in particular, enables business owners to be in the driver’s seat of their succession planning and timeline. This partnership offers hands-on resources and support for business owners to develop, then execute their succession plans.”

“Long standing legacy businesses anchor our neighborhoods. As businesses pass ownership to the next generation, it’s vital to ensure their transition is successful,” said Joaquin Torres, director of OEWD.” We are looking forward to partnering with Project Equity to engage businesses in succession planning and employee ownership models so these highly valued businesses and their employees remain part of San Francisco’s communities for generations to come.”

Small Business Owners Involvement 

We expect that San Francisco small business owners that have been in business for more than 20 years will be the ones to take advantage of this program. But, those businesses with more than 10 employees and three to five years of profitability can learn more about employee ownership succession by attending upcoming local events and signing up to receive a no-cost consultation.

A calendar of events can be found at: And to receive a free consultation, business owners can sign up at

Supporting Prosperity for SF Business Owners and Employees

This new partnership provides small business owners with support to adopt strategies that not only preserve the small business assets within San Francisco but also create new opportunities for employees to create wealth through business ownership.

About Project Equity

Project Equity is a national leader in the movement to harness employee ownership to maintain thriving local business communities, honor selling business owners’ legacies and address income and wealth inequality. Headquartered in the San Francisco Bay Area, Project Equity works locally and with partners around the country to raise awareness about employee ownership as an exit strategy for business owners, and as an important approach for increasing employee engagement and wellbeing. Project Equity provides hands-on consulting and support to companies that want to transition to employee ownership, as well as to the new employee-owners to ensure that they, and their businesses, thrive after the transition. Read more at

About the Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD)

The Office of Economic and Workforce Development advances equitable and shared prosperity for San Franciscans by growing sustainable jobs, supporting businesses of all sizes, creating great places to live and work, and helping everyone achieve economic self-sufficiency. For more information, please visit

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