As baby boomer business owners retire, our local business landscape is about to go through a dramatic shift.
Check out the new WNC study conducted by our partner organization, Project Equity. Engage with the interactive infographic to find out how your county is impacted by the potential loss of these businesses and learn how we can help.
Check out our latest coverage in the media
Facing South: A voice for a changing South
In North Carolina, co-ops are building a more democratic economy
Nestled at the foot of the Appalachian Mountains in western North Carolina, Morganton may seem like an unlikely place to find a large Mayan community. But since the 1980s, the Burke County city of almost 17,000 people, over 75 percent of them white and 12 percent black, is home to a growing Latino community, including Mayan immigrants from Guatemala.
Like other immigrants before them, the Maya came to Morganton in search of economic opportunity. Many found work at the local Case Farms chicken processing plant but grew dissatisfied over low wages, poor working conditions, and unsuccessful labor organizing efforts.
Searching for a better way to make a living, some have found it in cooperative economics. In 2008, Morganton native Molly Hemstreet organized Opportunity Threads to fill the need for ethical labor opportunities for the local community and to produce textiles for companies across North Carolina. Today, 20 of the co-op's 26 employees are Mayans.
Asheville Citizen Times
What will happen to Asheville's baby boomer businesses?
In the 15 counties of Western North Carolina, nearly 60,000 people work for baby boomers who are approaching retirement age, according to the study.
The region has a big question to answer: What will happen to baby boomer businesses and their employees when the owners retire?
Passing the torch:
What happens when local business owners retire?
The imminent mass retirement of baby boomers has both economic advisers and worker advocates worried about the future of small businesses in Western North Carolina and beyond. Boomers, many of whom will retire within the next decade, own roughly half of all American businesses, census data shows.