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University of Minnesota Extension

Retaining rural businesses through employee ownership

Monday, March 2, 2020 - Friday, March 6, 2020

Are you looking for someone to buy your business? Would you like to attract a buyer to a business in your community? Finding buyers can be difficult. In rural communities, where many business owners are aging, business transition is an important issue.

For rural businesses with 10 to 100 employees, selling to employees may be an option. Employees are already invested in the local business, and current employees are less likely to buy and move the business to another location.  

Extension wants to help rural businesses and communities consider employee ownership. So we are co-hosting a series of workshops to create awareness and knowledge about converting rural businesses to employee cooperatives. At the workshops, you will learn about:

  • Selling a business to employees
  • Case studies and data on employee business transitions
  • Steps in the conversion process
  • Resources you will need along the way

Who should attend? Our workshops are best suited for:

  • Economic and business development officials
  • Owners and managers of businesses
  • Prospective employee-owners
  • Business support professionals

Each workshop is 90 minutes long. Workshops will be held in locations throughout eastern Minnesota and western Wisconsin.  We will also host a webinar later in 2020 for those unable to attend in March.

Event information

Monday, March 2, 2020 - Friday, March 6, 2020
9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Minnesota and Wisconsin (more details in registration section)

Michael Darger, University of Minnesota Extension
Business retention and expansion program lead
darger@umn.edu or 612-625-6246




Workshops are subject to change or cancellation. Check this page for information on weather-related or other changes.

Dates, times and locations

March 2, 2020

  • Duluth, MN (9:00-10:30 AM)
  • Hayward, WI (1:00-2:30 PM)
  • Webster, WI (4:30-6:00 PM)

March 3, 2020

  • Mora, MN (9:00-10:30 AM)
  • Fridley, MN (3:00-4:30 PM)

March 4, 2020

  • Rushford, MN (10:00-11:30 AM)

March 5, 2020

  • Black River Falls, WI (10:00-11:30 AM)
  • Viroqua, WI (3:00-4:30 PM)

March 6, 2020

  • Oronoco, MN (9:30-11:00 AM)

Due to limited seating at some locations, please register. First priority will be given to those who pre-register.

Workshop hosts

University of Minnesota Extension, University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives and Cooperative Development Services have partnered to host the workshops. Grant funding is provided by the North Central Regional Center for Rural Development at Michigan State University.


All workshop presenters will attend each session except March 4 and 6. Learn more about them below.

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