Since 1981, Attorney Deborah Groban Olson has specialized in creating and advising employee-owned companies and many types of cooperatives. As a 1976 Order of the Coif graduate of the University of Wisconsin Law School, she has an AV peer rating from Martindale Hubbell as a preeminent attorney in her field. Olson leads the Community Economy Group (the Group), which is creating a cooperative network of sustainable, worker-owned companies to provide living wage jobs in SE Michigan. The CEG includes The Center for Community Based Enterprise (C2BE) and IngenuityUS, L3C (IUS).

A former chair of the National Center for Employee Ownership, Olson serves on the boards of Once Again Nut Butter Collective and Circle Pines Center, a co-op education and recreation center. She was also founder of the Capital Ownership Group. Through Kent State University, she ran its global online think-tank and conference center on using ownership to counter the negative impacts of globalization. Olson has also published and spoken extensively in both the US and Europe. Her experience in teaching and additional endeavors are vast.

Examples of Clients and Services:

  • Creating the worker and consumer owned High Five Co-op Brewery in Grand Rapids, MI;
  • Advising UFCW International and Local 1000 at Homeland Grocery Stores in negotiating an ESOP that includes corporate board seats and a representation agreement for existing and new stores, in 2011;
  • Serving as general counsel for MBC Ventures, Inc., a unionized 100% ESOP;
  • Advising Creative Community Pathways and Urban in creating family education cooperatives;
  • Designing the highly participative ESOP for the Carris Corporate Community;
  • Creating and advising Sub Chapter S company ESOP for Exhibit Works, Inc.;
  • Serving as general counsel for Mustard Tree Cooperative (housing);
  • Designing worker co-ops for the SW Detroit Construction Co-op and for the UAW at Franklin Forge;
  • Designing a co-op style ESOP and corporate structure at Republic Container for the USW;
  • Providing employee ownership pre-feasibility studies for the states of Michigan, Ohio and Maryland;
  • Creating a democratic, 100% ESOP buyout for the IAM at North Coast Brass in Ohio;
  • Representing the UFCW in negotiating majority employee ownership at the Rosauers Supermarket chain;
  • Providing advice to PACE International Union concerning numerous potential employee buyouts;
  • Assisting Gas Workers Local 80, SEIU in the merger of MichCon into Detroit Edison
  • Providing employee ownership advice for these unions or their members organized into buyout committees for: UAW, USWA, IAM, UPIU, Carpenters, IBEW, OPEIU, Teamsters, Boilermakers, ALPA, SEIU, AIW, UFCW, Visiting Nurses, Independent Union of National Forge Employees and others;
  • Teaching employee/board of director members and ESOP trustees (including union members) their duties, and teaching union representatives how to successfully negotiate employee ownership through UAW and PACE education programs, the Ohio Employee Ownership Center, the Worker Ownership Institute, the National Center for Employee Ownership, the AFL-CIO George Meany Center for Labor Studies and University of Wisconsin School for Workers; and
  • Convening and providing organizational help to the Detroit Community Cooperative (DCC)

Publications