By Anne Field for Forbes
In the Chicagoland area, most owners of manufacturing companies are not only white, but also are retirement-age and lack a succession plan. Their kids don’t want to take over or they lack the skills to do so. The likeliest fate for those businesses is to be bought by private equity firms that fire the employees, sell off some assets and move on, meaning a huge loss of jobs and revenue in the region.
For Dan Swinney, founder of the 35 year-old Manufacturing Renaissance, a nonprofit aimed at reviving manufacturing in the Chicago area, this challenge also has a massive upside--especially for black, Latino and Latina entrepreneurs, who might be employees of the business or simply people interested in owning and running an existing company. With a group of like-minded partners, he wants to identify thousands of healthy companies in need of buyers, while building a pipeline of viable, potential purchasers.
“This crisis seemed like a great opportunity,” says Swinney, who is managing director of the project. “This is a way to keep industry here and do something about the virtual exclusion of black, Latino and Latina entrepreneurs from manufacturing.”