Building Awareness and Community Around Ownership Opportunities in Manufacturing

Tuesday, November 28, 2023 – Manufacturing Renaissance, Ravinia Capital, League of Black Women and Bryan Cave Leighton Pasner co-hosted an inspiring and informational presentation, panel and networking event about the opportunities and challenges in ownership succession in manufacturing. A diverse group of about 80 attendees participated in the event, including entrepreneurs, investors and individuals representing the Chicagoland Manufacturing Renaissance Council, manufacturers, and the City of Chicago.

Tom Goldblatt of Ravinia Capital emceed the event. Dan Swinney, Founder of Manufacturing Renaissance, presented on the history and origins of the ideas that developed this initiative to proactively identify and assist privately-owned manufacturing companies to help keep their companies owned locally in our communities. The presentation was followed by distinguished panelists who shared their expertise on different dimensions on the challenges and opportunities reflecting this work.

  • Dr. Teresa Cordova, UIC Great Cities Institute, shared her research on the increasing percentage of manufacturing company owners who do not have a plan for succession and the implications of this on our communities.
  • Mary Josephs, Verit Advisors, shared her experience helping companies convert to employee ownership through employee stock ownership plans (ESOP).
  • DeJuan Lever, Iverson & Co., shared his journey, inspired by Manufacturing Renaissance’s earlier work to buying his own manufacturing company in June 2023.
  • Sandra Finley, League of Black Women, shared inspiring stories of Black women business owners and her own passion and sense of movement building around the expertise of Black women entrepreneurs who are ready to be the future leaders and owners of manufacturing companies.

Tom had everyone in the room briefly introduce themselves to increase awareness of the diversity and expertise in the room and to make the case on what is required to help develop and operationalize an Early Warning System and Manufacturing Succession Solutions program that can start to systematically identify and support ownership succession among legacy manufacturers to a new generation of employee-owners, Black, Latinx and other people of color, women and other minority groups underrepresented in the ownership of manufacturing companies.

MR’s David Robinson and volunteer and advisor Ken Gaebler, closed the event with an appeal for attendees to join us in building the momentum and funding needed to operationalize this work. This needs to be a major program in the Chicagoland area to retain and grow locally owned industry as a way to build wealth in traditionally underserved and underrepresented communities in manufacturing. If we do this right, we can build sustainable, inclusive and equitable economy for all.

Contact David Robinson if you are interested in learning more, providing funding support or getting involved. drobinson@mfgren.org.

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