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New York approves enviro-friendly B Corps; Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Illinois could be next

February 16th, 2012

From Green Right Now Reports

There are more than 450 B Corps nationwide.

B Corps, or benefit corporations, have arrived in the state of New York.

Earlier this month, the  legislature passed, and Gov.  Cuomo signed, a bill (S.79-A) approving this new type of corporate structure in which companies promise to have a positive impact on the environment and watch out for the rights of workers and communities.

State officials then immediately registered 13 companies as B Corps on Feb 10, the same day the law was enacted.

“The creation of benefit corporations in New York is a testament to the strength of this global movement to redefine success in business” said Andrew Kassoy, Co-Founder of B Lab, the non-profit organization that created the guidelines for B Corps, and has supported legislation to enable them in several states.

“New York is the heart of global finance and now interested investors in New York have a way to make sure their money is doing much more than just making a profit,” Kassoy said.

Greyston Bakery became New York’s first official benefit corporation, which president Mike Brady called the “validation of the double-bottom line mission (making a profit and a positive societal impact) that Greyston Bakery has championed for the past 30 years.” Greystone, founded by Zen Buddhist priest Bernie Glassman, aims to hire people who have been disadvantaged in the workforce, and uses profits for projects that benefit the surrounding community of Yonkers.

B Corps, according to B Lab and the American Sustainable Business Council, are legally required to:

  1. Have a corporate purpose to create a material positive impact on society and the environment
  2. Expand fiduciary duty to require consideration of the interests of workers, community and the environment, not simply profits
  3. Publicly report annually on overall social and environmental performance using a comprehensive, credible, independent, and transparent third-party standard.  (By comparison, traditional corporate practices require corporations to prioritize the financial interests of shareholders.)

California, New Jersey, Virginia, Hawaii, Vermont and Maryland also have passed laws providing for B Corps. Legislation has been introduced in Michigan, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Illinois and the District of Columbia. The legislation

Jeff Bridges visits Greyston Bakery, whose motto is, "We don't hire people to bake brownies. We bake brownies to hire people."

has so far received bi-partisan support in all states where it’s been introduced, perhaps because legislators see it as another way to encourage businesses to operate in their state.

New York Senator Daniel Squadron, who introduced the legislation, enthused that the state’s newfangled corporations could “unlock billions in investments, all while promoting a new socially-minded approach to entrepreneurship.”

“Today is a big day for all who believe that profitable business and social responsibility can be inextricably connected,” he said the day the law passed. “I look forward to welcoming many new benefit corps to New York in the coming weeks and months.”

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who’d helped sponsor the legislation, also said it presented an opportunity “By enabling benefit corporations in New York, we are continuing our efforts to strengthen and diversify our economy while demonstrating that profit and the pursuit of social justice are not mutually exclusive.”

Companies that filed for B Corp status in New York on the first day, in addition to Greyston Bakery, were: Agrodolce for Fast Foodies, Call2Action, Clay.com, Corn Cow Inc., eco, Greyston Bakery, On Belay Business Advisors, Outlier, Sahara Reporters, Singlebrook Technology, Stephen Vardin & Colleagues, Inc., Strugatz Ventures.

The New York bill was backed by the American Sustainable Business Council and B Lab and promoted by a citizen advocacy campaign led by Care2.com.



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