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Keep the Doors Open:  For Businesses in NYC and Massachusetts

ICA’s Business Resilience Program

Are you a business owner who was already thinking of retirement when COVID-19 hit, and now want to accelerate your exit?

Are you deciding between re-opening your business or shutting down due to the pandemic?

Are you seeking a competitive advantage to retain your workforce and differentiate your company?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, transitioning your business to employee ownership might be right for you.

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Program Overview

Due to COVID-19, local businesses are facing an unprecedented risk of closure.  At stake are good jobs, local ownership, and retirement savings of business owners. The pandemic is forcing many business owners to choose between closing down, or taking on overwhelming debt to stay open. You don’t have to close your doors! Apply to our Keep the Doors Open program. 

Through Keep the Doors Open we help business owners determine whether sharing or transferring ownership to employees could save the business (also known as an ‘employee buyout’). Owners can choose to stay involved while sharing the responsibility of running the business with a larger team. Or retire while keeping the business alive in the community. With financing for a partial or full buyout, employees become the new generation of owners, and owners can secure a fair price for the business. Employee ownership helps preserve retirement savings of business owners, protects local jobs, and builds resilient businesses. Learn more about employee ownership here

We strongly encourage businesses that are owned or staffed by people of color, women, and immigrants to apply to this program. With COVID-19, the racial disparities entrenched in our economic systems are more apparent than ever. Lack of access to capital, including through federal programs, has already had a devastating and disproportionate impact: between February and April, 41% of all black-owned businesses shut down, compared to 17% of white-owned businesses. We can help businesses in your community before it’s too late. Help us spread the word about Keep the Doors Open.

Quote over colorful background: ICA took the time to fully examine my business model, financials, dynamics within the organization, and did a comprehensive analysis. This is invaluable as a business owner to have this professional input at such a crucial and emotional time they provided what I needed when I needed it most.

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Types of Support Available

Eligible businesses that submit applications will receive a free consultation.  

If accepted into the program, our professional advisors will help you:

  • Understand the transition options available to you, including employee ownership. We will evaluate whether an employee buyout is compatible with your goals and help you compare it with other options.

  • Learn what your business is worth, how to recover value lost due to the pandemic, and how to get the financial return you need. 

  • Determine the right mix of financing and access to loans to enable employees to purchase the business. We’ll also connect you to mission-based lenders.

  • Structure the sale of all or part of your business in partnership with your company’s stakeholders, accountants, and attorneys.

  • Increase employee engagement at your business, by providing training and support for managers and key staff before, during, and after the transition.

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Program Eligibility

  • Business is located in Massachusetts or one of the five boroughs of New York City (Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, or Staten Island).

  • Business employs at least five people.

  • Businesses in any industry qualify. Some examples include: professional services (including IT); construction; entertainment/ arts/ culture; healthcare and social assistance (including home care and child care); industrial/ manufacturing (including food manufacturing); installation/ repair/ building services; landscaping; logistics.

Businesses that are owned or staffed by people of color, women, immigrants, and/or are in historically marginalized communities or communities experiencing disinvestment or displacement are especially encouraged to apply.

Businesses that are essential to economic recovery efforts – including but not limited to child care, home care and groceries – are encouraged to apply.

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Apply Now

To apply for ICA’s Business Resilience Program, please fill out this simple application form. We will contact you within 5 business days of receiving your application to discuss your eligibility.

Contact keepdoorsopen@icagroup.org with any questions not answered in the FAQ section below.

This program is supported by the Massachusetts Center for Employee Ownership (MassCEO), funded by the Massachusetts Office of Business Development, and the New York City Council administered by the Department of Small Business Services.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is employee ownership?

Can employees with limited resources buy a business from its original owners?

What do I do if I work at a company where I think the owner might be on the verge of closing, but I am not in management?  Can I do anything?

How do I know if employee ownership is right for my business?

Do I have to be a retiring business owner?

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Resources about Employee Ownership

Go to What is a Worker Cooperative? PDF
Go to Six Myths About Worker Ownership PDF
Go to What is an ESOP PDF
Go to Co-op Conversions At Scale PDF
Go to resources
Go to The Rose Garden Early Childhood Center case study
Go to A Yard and a Half Landscaping case study
Go to Metis Construction case study
Go to PV Squared case study

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Contact Us


Support our work to advance businesses and institutions that center worker voice, grow worker wealth, and build worker power.

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