window.TimetradeBox = { widgetLinkClassName: 'custom-tbox-popup' } /*open slider button in new tab*/


in Berkeley, CA


As business owners retire we help keep

these businesses thriving in our communities





Median Income


Poverty Rate


Employee ownership as a strategy for business retention in Berkeley, CA


Berkeley seeks to curb the effects of the Silver Tsunami

The city of Berkeley, located in the San Francisco Bay Area just north of Oakland, is already the home of many employee-owned businesses, and is a critical city for the Bay Area’s small business economy.

Small, locally-owned businesses are essential to Berkeley’s local economy and community vitality. Among the challenges the city faces is keeping small businesses and the jobs they provide rooted in the community, as the Silver Tsunami – the retirement of baby boomer business owners – impacts Berkeley.


The city is taking a proactive approach to assist locally-owned businesses that are at risk of retention is by partnering with Project Equity to help them learn about the option of employee ownership succession.


Meet the owners of Adams and Chittenden Scientific Glass, a Berkeley manufacturing company that chose employee ownership as their succession plan.

The silent risk of the Silver Tsunami

Baby boomers (those born between 1946-1964) own nearly half of all businesses with employees in the nine county San Francisco Bay Area (Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Sonoma, Solano). Cities and regions need to understand the risk of these legacy businesses not being retained locally — either because they quietly close down, are sold to out of area buyers, or simply don’t have a succession plan as the owner marches into retirement.

Berkeley’s proactive approach 

Berkeley, CA is taking a very proactive look at this issue and investing city funds into growing employee-owned companies. Project Equity performed an analysis for Berkeley to quantify the number of privately-held companies with employees that are 20 years or older — a good indication that they need succession planning — and the impact if these businesses are not retained.

Companies that are 20 years old and over in the city of Berkeley:
  • Represent over 1,600 of the city’s businesses
  • Employ an estimated 12,600 individuals
  • Generate over $1.7B in revenue


Local ownership over the long-term

Keeping privately-held companies locally owned over the long term is a critical component of any economic development strategy. One challenge is that increasingly, daughters and sons don’t want to take over their parents’ companies. Since, according to BizBuySell, the largest online marketplace for businesses, only an estimated 20 percent of businesses listed ever sell, we need more strategies for business succession. The good news is that there is an approach that can provide similar benefits to family succession: employee ownership.

Employee ownership may be unfamiliar to many, but it brings numerous benefits, the most important of these are keeping companies rooted in place, providing quality jobs and strengthening companies for the long-term. It also offers a ready solution to the retiring business owner: there’s a buyer right there under your nose — the very employees who helped you build the company.

Berkeley has partnered with Project Equity to shine a light on the need for smart succession planning and to develop an effective strategy to engage with their legacy businesses.

Local ownership is important to our region’s future. Let’s make sure the Silver Tsunami doesn’t put us at risk.


More about Project Equity

Project Equity partners with cities and regions to help understand the impact of baby boomer retirements on business retention and potential job loss. We educate and engage businesses and de-mystify the employee ownership succession path. When it is the right fit, we help companies develop employee succession plans, and provide support along the way to foster a smooth transition.

Learn about our partnership with the City of Berkeley

Check out our recent media coverage

Just released!

New studies in the SF Bay Area, Twin Cities, Western North CarolinaDetroit and Central Pennsylvania show millions of businesses at risk, pointing to employee ownership as a solution.

Free consultation

for businesses interested in employee ownership


How it works

Understand the steps to transition your business

Learn from others

See how others transitioned and how the financing worked

How Project Equity can help

Schedule a free consultation

Join our mailing list!

Get started today and receive the latest updates from our team.
Project Equity News: Keep me up-to-date about Project Equity’s work to scale employee ownership (monthly)
Business Owner Insider: Send me tips, insights, and inspiration about transitioning to employee ownership (quarterly)

Share This