ChangeMatters and Substance151 Become the Nation’s First Benefit LLCs

June 1, 2011

ChangeMatters and Substance151 Become the Nation’s First Benefit LLCs
New Maryland Law Creates a New Category for Triple-Bottom-Line Businesses

BALTIMORE, June 1, 2011 – Today, ChangeMatters, a social enterprise consultancy based in Takoma Park, filed paperwork under a new business category available only in the state of Maryland, and was recorded as the first business to be named a Benefit LLC. Substance151 a Baltimore-based strategic brand communications firm, and Clean Currents, a wind and solar power provider, also filed this morning.

The statute creating the new benefit category for limited liability companies (LLCs) was signed into law in May by Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley and went into effect today. The new law follows and mirrors the Benefit Corporation law that took effect last October, which made Maryland the first state in the Union to recognize the Benefit Corporation as a new corporate legal form recognizing business entities that commit to balancing financial performance with social and environmental missions.

“Over the past year, my team has organized a number of public seminars on the new law and related topics to explore social enterprise and socially-responsible business practice,” said Amy Kincaid, founder and principal of ChangeMatters, Benefit LLC. “We want social enterprise businesses and socially-responsible companies to grow and thrive while still maintaining their ‘common good’ goals. And we want government and private support to encourage this kind of economic activity.”

Kincaid was invited to suggest modifications of that new law and testified in both Maryland House and Senate prior to passage, specifically calling for some way to recognize and embrace service businesses working from a social benefit orientation.

Jon Widrick, Esq., an attorney specializing in the burgeoning field of socially responsible enterprises, filed paperwork for ChangeMatters and Substance151. He said, “The passage of the Benefit LLC law in Maryland represents a vital step to providing the legal framework to for social responsibility in all aspects of business planning, especially because so many small businesses, who are often the first and most enthusiastic adopters of green and sustainable practices, choose to form as LLCs rather than traditional corporations.”

“The new filings focus attention on the potential for balanced entrepreneurial activity that can improve the quality of life in communities by helping to build businesses that demonstrate that it is possible—and desirable—both to do well and to do good,” said Kincaid.

Ida Cheinman, principal and creative director of Substance151 said, “We are already a Green America certified business and will continue to build on our current sustainable practices, such as reusing and recycling, and working with sustainable vendors and suppliers. But by being among the very first LLCs in the state – and in the country – to receive this designation, I believe Substance151 can help create a stronger voice for businesses seeking to do well and to do good.”

Maryland State Senator Jamie Raskin (Montgomery County), who sponsored both pieces of legislation, referred to this as “a great moment in the evolution of commercial life in Maryland and America” and called on Maryland to “become the Delaware of Benefit Corporations.”