The enthusiasm and energy for socially-responsible and green business—particularly in the form of the benefit corporation—is gaining traction nationwide. But while the laws are intriguing and generating interest and opportunity, as consultants and trainers in this field, we can see the potential for job creation, revenue, and positive community impact—widespread adoption, coordination, research, and support is trailing way behind.
I believe the activity ahead is to
1. Fulfill implementation of these new laws.
2. Grow and develop these benefit entities and other common good enterprises.
3. Start measuring impact (jobs, revenue, social return on investment).
Benefit Corporation and Benefit LLC laws have gone into effect in Maryland. Benefit Corporation laws have gone into effect this year in Vermont and Virginia. Hawaii passed legislation. And bills are on the governors’ desks in New York and California. States continue to consider and pass L3C legislation. California also has the Flexible Purpose Corporation bill on Gov. Brown’s desk. A brief window of opportunity for states to step into leadership on this and make a commitment to attract and foster social enterprise and socially-responsible business (“common good enterprise”). It could be one part of a regional economic development strategy focused on creating good jobs, generating sustainable revenue, and for nurturing innovation and social impact.
We’ve got curiosity and interest and some experimental new laws. What’s needed now is commitment and resources at the state level to implement the law—and toward a larger agenda, to cultivate common good enterprise activity generated by tax-exempt and for-profit entities that can create good jobs and invigorate the economy.