Partnership explores business stabilization and recovery through social succession in Atlantic Canada

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The “silver tsunami” of retiring business owners without a succession plan has been recognized for many years now and was already of huge concern before COVID-19, which exacerbated the problem by adding thousands of other businesses at risk or already closed.

Recent reports from the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council (APEC) have said COVID-19 is hitting rural communities much harder economically, and the recovery process is more like a ‘K’, with some population groups doing alright through the crisis while others are hit much harder including women, youth, marginalized and racialized groups.

This Business Recovery, Stabilization and Succession project was first envisioned nearly two years ago, as CCEDNet and community partners across the Atlantic region identified the need to preserve local economies by supporting retiring owners to transition their businesses to a social enterprise or co-operative business model. However, it has become even more important, and relevant to a much larger target audience, since the onset of the pandemic.

Working together with Leading Edge Community Development Consultants Co-op, Co-operative Enterprise Council of New Brunswick, CDR-Acadie, and a range of other national and local stakeholders working on business succession models, we are undertaking an action research project to compile data about the local economic situation, the variety of tools already available to support business succession processes using a social succession strategy, and test learning resources and other content with various groups of stakeholders and communities. 

Read the February midterm report to find out more about the initial findings and actions.

Keep watching for more updates on Business Recovery, Stabilization and Succession, including a final report due this summer, as we connect with stakeholders to address the economic and social impact of Covid 19, especially in rural and marginalized communities, and make the most of opportunities related to social succession.

Contact Laurie Cook with Leading Edge to find out more: chutzpah ( at )

Updates since the Midterm

  • The Legacy Leadership Lab is an important resource in this field. The initial L3 project is due to wrap up in Spring of this year. The WISIR team has been engaging with everyone who's been involved to understand where the next steps and focus should be moving forward. They are considering future partnerships and financial resources to ensure the resources and knowledge developed can continue to be useful. The resources being developed will also need to be adapted for an Atlantic Canadian context. It will be important to watch how this process unfolds.
  • CoopConvert has been releasing reports on this topic, including the recent report: Canada’s SMEs, business succession, and conversion to co-operatives (2021). For more up-to-date information about the CoopConvert project, please check out their website.

This report is funded by the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) under the Atlantic Policy Research Initiative, which provides a vehicle for the analysis of key socioeconomic policy issues in Atlantic Canada. The views expressed in this study do not reflect the views of ACOA or of the Government of Canada. The authors are responsible for the accuracy, reliability and currency of the information.

Community Capacity Building
Community ownership
Entrepreneurship & Business Development
Local economy
Organizational Development
Partnership Building
Regional Development
Research & Development
Sector-Based Strategies
Social Economy & Social Enterprise
Social Innovation