Nonprofit Takes Leadership Role to Address Business Succession “Tsunami”

March, 2019

By Steve Dubbs

Here at NPQ, we have noted that a business ownership succession wave—often called the “silver tsunami”—is rising. According to the nonprofit Project Equity, nationally “baby boomers own 2.34 million businesses, employ 24.7 million people, and have combined annual sales of $5.14 trillion.” Sadly, 80 percent of these businesses lack succession plans.

Slowly, awareness of the looming crisis is growing—and some communities are responding. Bounded by the eastern edge of Lake Ontario on its west, Canada to the north, and Lake Champlain to the east, the Adirondack North Country region contains 14 counties and 1.26 million people. The Plattsburgh Press-Republican reports that, “More than 10,000 business owners [are] nearing retirement in the North Country.”

The Adirondack North Country Association (ANCA) has supported regional economic development in the region since 1955. According to its strategic plan, it aspires to be a “hub for collective problem solving, bringing together people, partners, and resources to get practical things done.” It consciously employs a “local first” approach to community wealth building, unlike the smokestack-chasing (or its 21st-century variant, Amazon-chasing) common to so much of the field. As its strategic plan explains, it explicitly has chosen to focus on “self-reliance for goods and services through locally owned, import substituting (LOIS) businesses,” which, they add, have five advantages over the conventional approach: “higher multipliers, more reliable, higher standards, more dynamic, and better social impacts.” The agency also supports renewable energy development. Already, 97 percent of the region’s energy comes from renewable sources.

Read the full article in the Nonprofit Quarterly