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WATERLOO — Two Waterloo-area businesses are teaming up to host a social networking event for ESOP businesses in the Cedar Valley and the Cedar Rapids area.

VGM Group and ISG Inc., which both operate as employee-owned ESOP companies, will co-host the event from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday at The Blue Iguana in Waterloo.

Organizers see the event as an opportunity for employees from ESOP companies to discuss wins and challenges and share insights and advice with their peers. Elected officials also will be invited to the event.

An ESOP is an employee stock ownership plan that gives employees ownership interest in the company. According to the National Center for Employee Ownership, there are 160 companies in Iowa operating as an ESOP.

Arienne Martinez from VGM said this is the first year for the event, and she hopes it can become an annual celebration for employees of ESOP companies.

“As employee owners, we have a unique culture that creates a sense of empowerment for the future of our company,” said Martinez. “We’re looking forward to meeting with our peers from area ESOP companies to network, learn and share our experiences and ideas.”

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