Gillibrand Bill Would Encourage More Employee-Owned Businesses


Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand tours the Syracuse Label and Surround Printing facility. TOM MAGNARELLI / WRVO PUBLIC MEDIA

SYRACUSE, NY (WRVO) – Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) is pushing for legislation that would provide more access to funding for employee-owned businesses. Gillibrand said there is an urgency to create more opportunities for retiring baby boomer business owners.

In 2007, Peter Rhodes wanted to sell his company, Syracuse Label and Surround Printing. His family was not interested in it and deals fell through with other label companies. So he decided to sell it to his employees. Current president of the company, Kathy Alaimo said the employee ownership culture allows them to compete with larger, global companies.

“I never feel like I’m alone out there, ever,” Alaimo said. “I have a whole company of people that are other owners of a company, so a different mindset than your traditional employee, that are there to support me or our customers in any way that they need to, so that we can be successful.”

Gillibrand said the Main Street Employee Ownership Act would make the Small Business Administration better at helping companies become employee-owned. It would streamline the process to get loans, help with the transition and increase outreach.

“It engages businesses on how to do this,” Gillibrand said. “Asking the SBA to reach out to their small businesses around the country and say, this is a great opportunity for your employers, because as I said, the employees earn more if they happen to be ESOP’s (employee stock ownership plan). They just tend to be hirer wages, more retirement and better benefits.”

Gillibrand said sometimes, companies sell their technology to China because it is the easiest way to wind down.

“If they had this information about how easy it is to become an employee-owned company, a lot of them would say, I’d love to keep that legacy here in upstate,” Gillibrand said. “It’s where I raised my family. I want these jobs to be here for the next generation.”

The bill passed a key committee in the House and could be included in any must-pass legislation on the economy or jobs before the end of the year.