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Worker cooperative trainings to be held in Hazard and Morehead this spring to share practical knowledge

More than 26,000 Kentucky businesses, employing more than 300,000 people, are owned by baby boomers, many of whom have not identified the next generation of ownership and could be at risk of closing their businesses when they retire. Transitioning to a worker-owned cooperative or another form of employee ownership could keep these businesses thriving and locally owned.

The Mountain Association for Community Economic Development (MACED) and Kentucky Center for Agriculture and Rural Development (KCARD) are partnering to offer training about this critical challenge. There will be two separate training sessions: One in Hazard on March 27, and another in Morehead on April 30. Presented by Project Equity, the workshop will explore worker-owned cooperatives and other employee-owned models, as well as best practices in helping businesses transition to employee ownership.

The day-long training sessions aim to raise awareness, share practical knowledge and inspire innovation in Eastern Kentucky. Stakeholders representing economic development and community organizations, as well as business owners interested in developing succession plans for their businesses, will gather for a robust day of learning, networking and skill building. They will also hear directly about employee ownership from Wayne Hunt of H&R Agri-Power in Western Kentucky, and Molly Hemstreet of Opportunity Threads in rural North Carolina, whose businesses are cooperatives.

“The worker cooperative is a growing business model that provides an opportunity for local ownership and control of businesses in our communities through employee ownership,” said KCARD business development specialist Brent Lackey. He hopes the training will bring awareness to these types of business models that are relatively rare in Kentucky.

The first workshop will be March 27 from 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. at the Perry County Public Library. The second training will be April 30 in Morehead at the Morehead Conference Center. The events are free and lunch is provided, though participants must register in advance.

For more information about the workshops, please contact Leslie Ferguson-Oles at leslie@maced.org or (859) 986-2373.

From Mountain Association for Community Economic Development

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