According to Adam Vartikar, founder and chair of the advocacy group Working Wealth, Massachusetts has 42,000 small businesses whose owners are likely to retire in the next seven to 10 years, collectively employing over 750,000 people. Vartikar says that most small businesses choose one of three options when their owner retires: 1) sell to a competitor or institutional buyer, 2) pass the company on to their children, or 3) shut down entirely. Vartikar estimates that two-thirds of businesses end up closing down.
Now, however, state and business officials have announced the revival of a state employee ownership office that had been moribund for over a decade. This, according to Vartikar, means there is now an effective fourth option for exiting business owners. “If you have an employee or you have a group of employees, you have a buyer, and if you live in a community and you love the businesses in that community, they have an option to stay around,” Vartikar explains.