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Empowered Energy Systems becomes Worker-Owned Cooperative

Empowered Energy Systems Staff Photo
Teya Cranson
Empowered Energy Systems Staff Photo

The Western Slope solar company started in 2004 by Brad Burritt and wife Danielle Carre has been migrating to a worker-owned cooperative with a focus on providing local jobs into the future.

It seems that Burritt and Carre have joined the “Silver Tsunami”, boomer business owners aged 65 and plus…. looking to leave their business. But, rather than sell their business, they’re opting to create worker-owned cooperatives.

It is estimated that within the next 10 years, thousands of business owners in Colorado plan to leave their business. The transition to a worker-owned business at Empowered Energy Systems began over a year ago with employees JJ Riggs and Kelly Moss.

Currently Burritt and Carre work for the cooperative while the new worker-owners develop skills and experience.

At last count, Colorado has over 150 employee owned businesses. Colorado State Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) sees the development of employee ownership models important for the long-term economic security of the state.

Data suggest that employee-owned businesses often have higher wages, less turnover, access to better benefits, and job security. In addition, the workforce is more engaged and is empowered by making business decisions.

Across the United States, an estimated 6 in 10 business owners plan to retire or sell their businesses within the next 10 years, and of these, 15% of businesses are passed down to the next generation, and only 20% of listed businesses sell.

In Colorado, 48% of small business owners are 55 or older. Employee ownership models offer an alternative exit strategy for business owners that also preserve jobs and create sustainable economic opportunities.

In addition to becoming a worker-owned corporation, Empowered Energy Systems also became a Public Benefit Corporation …. a for-profit corporation or domestic cooperative that aims to produce one or more public benefits and to operate in a responsible and sustainable manner.

Carre says becoming a Public Benefit Corporation “ is a logical step since the company has a history of community work and contributions.”

Lisa was born in Texas but grew up on a small farm in Olathe, Colorado and considers herself a “Colorado native after six years of age.” Lisa has seven years experience in media, beginning as a News Director for a small radio station on the Eastern Plains. Following her initial radio career, Lisa worked as a staff reporter for The Journal Advocate in Sterling, Colorado and most recently as a staff reporter for the Delta County Independent. Lisa is thrilled to join the award-winning News and Public Affairs team at KVNF.