Legal Update on Michigan Bcorps and Purpose Driven Business.

October 9, 2018 Leave a comment

Happy Tuesday, all.

I recently took this photo of the Grand River that flows through downtown Grand Rapids.

Today I read an article in the Grand Rapids Business Journal by Local First President

2018-09-30 13.46.51Elissa Sangalli Hillary on how to build a “Purpose Driven Business“.

Elissa starts off the article by advising entrepreneurs to “start with your values”

“As an entrepreneur, you have an opportunity to start a business that’s founded on your values, morals and principles. Before you dive into your business plan, reflect on your core values and prioritize those you want as the foundation of your business.”

 

According to Elissa’s article, you can join her and other entrepreneurs at  Start Garden on Oct. 10 for a “Measure What Matters Workshop on The Social Justice Entrepreneur. This workshop is an opportunity to hear from entrepreneurs and their best practices for developing a meaningful business plan and leading a business with purpose.

 

Benefit Corporations – purpose driven business.

The option of forming a business entity using a “benefit corporation” legal structure is one way to formally memorialize at a fundamental level your company’s values morals and principals.

 

Why BCorps?

BenefitCorp.net describes the benefit of BCorps as:

“Benefit corporations expand the obligations of boards, requiring them to consider environmental and social factors, as well as the financial interests of shareholders. This gives directors and officers the legal protection to pursue a mission and consider the impact their business has on society and the environment. The enacting state’s benefit corporation statutes are placed within existing state corporation codes so that it applies to benefit corporations in every respect except those explicit provisions unique in the benefit corporation form.”

 

BCorps have gained Popularity since 2006.

Currently 34 States have enacted BCorp Laws.

Michigan is not one of those States.

Almost six months ago the State of Michigan House tantalized social entrepreneurs, once again, with the possibility of Bcorps becoming a viable legal option to do business in the State of Michigan.

House Bills 5867, 5868 & 5869 were introduced on April 24, 2018, that would allow BCorps to be formed under Michigan Law.

As of today, there is still no movement on these bills.

 

Back almost two years ago the legislature proposed similar legislation which died in committee. For a review of the Former BCorp Bills, the House Fiscal Agency issued a Fiscal Analysis, check it out here. 

The Analysis provides good background on what the legislation would do. This is helpful for those who are not overly familiar with BCorps in general.

 

I continue to wonder why year after year Michigan fails to catch up with the rest of the country concerning these social enterprise businesses for good.

As of March 2018 there have been 14 West Michigan businesses certified B Corporations – a third party sustainable good certification process, but not having the corporate BCorp Structure. That number is growing.

People want to do business with companies that exist for something besides making a profit. Certainly you don’t need the Bcorp legal structure in order to accomplish that.

However, there seems to be a demand for such a social enterprise entity in Michigan.

What is the legislature waiting for?

Questions? Comments?

Jeshua@dwlawpc.com

http://www.dwlawpc.com

Connect with me on Twitter: @JeshuaTLauka

 

 

 

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Grand Rapids Combats the Affordable Housing Crisis through the Rental Assistance Center

September 20, 2018 Leave a comment

Today was my first day back mentoring my student at a local elementary school in the City of Grand Rapids.

MTM

I was excited to catch up with my student, what had changed over the summer?

One thing that changed, he had moved once again. Having to be concerned about where you will be sleeping at night, is a concern that no kid should have.

In fact, Mel Trotter Ministries reports that in Kent and Ottawa

County there are over 3,300 homeless school-aged children.

 

 

Yesterday evening was Mel Trotter Ministries’ Annual Season of Hope Event. There, once again, was presented the information on the above photo. People become homeless due to a lack of relationships.

Our community needs to come around those who are vulnerable. One way that our community is doing that, is through the public/private collaborations to address the affordable housing crisis in Grand Rapids.

 

There is an Affordable Housing Crisis.

As many of you know, Kent County, like much of the U.S. is experiencing a serious lack of Affordable Housing.

The City of Grand Rapids has made concerted efforts to address problem through an advisory board, which has come up with strategies for addressing the Affordable Housing Crisis

Last year I posted on one of those tools that I deal with fir

st hand in representing landlords, real estate investors and property management companies – the Kent County Eviction Prevention Program. You can check out a blog post I wrote about that here

I have seen firsthand that this program can be a useful tool to keep families facing temporary emergencies in housing.

The EPP was developed as a collaborative effort between the City of Grand Rapids, Salvation Army of West Michigan, The Kent County Court System, the Michigan Department of Human Services and with funding provided by Steelcase.

Why I like this program.

This program provides an opportunity to keep people in housing who are on the verge of being homeless. The fact is, families are experiencing homelessness in Grand Rapids every day.

 

 

City, Grand Rapids Housing Commission create Rental Assistance Center

 

Today I read that the City of Grand Rapids and the Grand Rapids Housing Commission have established a two-year pilot for a Rental Assistance C

enter for low-income households. Check out the complete press release here.

According to the press release:

“The Rental Assistance Center – approved by the City Commission on Tuesday – will connect households that earn 80 percent or less of the Area Median Income (AMI) with vacant rental properties and refer “rent-ready” applicants to landlords, increasing the efficiency of the rental search for households and landlords.”

Further – households who are “not rent-ready” “who – do n

ot meet established landlord criteria – will be referred to a resident service coordinator who can help them overcome barriers to secure rental housing.”

 

 

Housing is a community problem. It is encouraging to see the great collaboration between government, private sector, non-profit sector.

We all have a role to play. I hope you can find yours.

 

e-mail: Jeshua@dwlawpc.com

Twitter: @JeshuaTLauka

www.dwlawpc.com

Removing Barriers for the Vulnerable in our Society.

September 19, 2018 Leave a comment

 

Today is the first day of Artprize!  I took this photo today. For the next few weeks Grand Rapids will be swarming with visitors to see Art like the “Phoenix” – see below a photo I took.

 

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Mel Trotter Ministries  – showing compassion for the vulnerable

Today just so happens to be Mel Trotter Ministries annual Season of Hope Event.

MTM is the safety net for the West Michigan community. It serves the vulnerable in our community and serves people no matter where they are found – homeless, hurting, addicted, including those who have just been released from prison.

Those with a felony conviction on their records face an uphill battle in finding housing and employment.

phoenix

Phoenix Artprize Exhibit

According to the  Small Business Association of Michigan

Convicts leaving incarceration often have a difficult time re-entering the working world because, according to one survey, 65 percent of employers would never consider hiring someone with a felony record.

 

When people think about the marginalized in our society – those with a felony record should be at the top of the list.

 

Removing Barriers for Felons

A few weeks back Michigan Governor Rick Snyder signed a law that bans “felony box” from State Job applications. See the Detroit Free Press article Here

According to Governor Snyder he wanted to “ set an example for the private sector in giving ex-felons improved chances to successfully return to society.”

 

The legislator has attempted to pass a law to help ex-felons find jobs in the private sector, but the law appears to have stalled.

Last year I posted about the Michigan Work Opportunity Act

Senate Bill 14 was passed by the Senate, but stalled in House committee Check out the Legislative Analysis by the House Fiscal Agency, here

The Bill would create the “Work Opportunity Act” which would require the Department of Talent and Economic Development (TED) to provide grants for employers’ hiring of qualified individuals on probation or parole.

The House Fiscal Agency’s Analysis recognizes the “apparent problem”

“In seeking re-entry into the workforce, an ex-felon is confronted with myriad challenges, including appealing to employers who are not eager to accept the risk of hiring an ex-felon. This program would seek to mitigate that risk, by offering grants of a portion of the exfelon’s salary to employers who hire qualified ex-felons.”

 

Homelessness, joblessness, is a community-wide problem. It takes an entire community.  I am thankful for the local businesses who employ ex-felons.

The fact is, all people have inherent value.

 

We are all just a life-circumstance away from being homeless, addicted, or in jail.

 

But for God’s Grace, there go I.

Questions? comments?

email: Jeshua@dwlawpc.com

http://www.dwlawpc.com

Twitter: @JeshuaTLauka

 

A Call to Authenticity and Servant Leadership.

August 30, 2018 Leave a comment

Good afternoon, all.

I am looking forward to a relaxing Labor Day Weekend, I hope you are too. Before I am headed out of the office to venture past the Mackinaw Bridge, I wanted to sent a quick post.

I took this photo today – Rosa Parks Circle in downtown Grand Rapids has music and food trucks. Thursdays in Rosa Parks Circle is a great time.

IMG_0132

 

A few weeks back I was notified that I had been named as a “40 under 40” Business leader for 2018 by the Grand Rapids Business Journal.

As part of the “40 under 40” event, yesterday I had 40 seconds to tell “my story“. This story will be aired at the event on October 17, in front of over 700 people.

At first glance, that seems a tall task. How can anyone tell their story in 40 seconds?

We all have a story to tell.

Moreover, we all get to choose what parts of our story we reveal to other people.

I recognize it is a tremendous temptation to only reveal to others what looks favorable about ourselves – to shine the light on our achievements, awards, skills, and the things that we can so easily take pride in.

You know what I am talking about.

The things that fall into the  “look at me, I am important.”  category.

 

What I hoped to convey in my 40 seconds was something that I believe God has been impressing on me as of late –  authenticity.

Being real.

That is not a comfortable thing to do, particularly if you are like me and don’t have it all together. (none of us do).

In theory, I didn’t think it would be a big deal to share my story. But yesterday, when I sat on a stool under glaring lights with several cameras on me (thanks Justin Razmus and Team at 616 Media) I became anxious. The fears began to creep in.

 

Interestingly, when I did my first take, someone in the room could identify with aspects of my story.

 

It is OK not to have it all together.

 

I’ve heard it said by Craig Groeschel

Be yourself.

“People would rather follow a leader who is always REAL than one who is always RIGHT.”

 

As for me, I’m striving to be a leader who is real.

In order that God might be made powerful in my weakness. – 2 Corinthians 12:9

 

Questions? Comments?

Jeshua@dwlawpc.com

http://www.dwlawpc.com

Connect with me on Twitter: @JeshuaTLauka

An Opportunity to Be a Voice In the Life of Kid Who Needs to Know they Matter.

August 22, 2018 Leave a comment

8.14.18This week my kids went back to school. That kind of signifies the end of summer for my family.

I took this photo, reminding me of the sunset on a wonderful summer.

Fall is an exciting time though.

As kids go back to school this fall, mentoring through my church starts up again. I am looking forward to meeting once again with a now second grader at a Grand Rapids elementary school.

Yesterday I read a proposed law:

House Bill 6072 

“Breakfast after the Bell Nutrition Program”

 

This program would offer free breakfast to every student enrolled in public school in which at least 70% of the students enrolled are eligible for free or reduced cost lunch under the school lunch program.

This program got me thinking about the kids at the school where I mentor, particularly the individual students that I have interacted with over the years.

The children who go to school where I mentor would undoubtedly benefit from this program. I often hear that for many of these children the only nutritious meal they will have all day just might be the food the school provides them.

I am all for giving these growing kids more food. From my experience, some of these children are facing obstacle after obstacle in their daily lives. It is hard to concentrate and learn at school when life is in chaos at home.

Being hungry should not be another obstacle for these children.

Investing in the Life of a Child.

Here’s a question for you. If you are regularly in the position where you can get away for a lunch hour a week, why not consider spending it with a child?

There are many children who are desperate for an adult to speak value and truth into their lives.

The fact is, when you consistently show up to meet one-on-one with a child, you are affirming to the child that they matter.

 

Questions? Comments?

Jeshua@dwlawpc.com

http://www.dwlawpc.com

Connect with me on Twitter: @JeshuaTLauka

 

 

 

Lessons From Trial, but not What You Might Expect.

August 3, 2018 Leave a comment

Happy Friday, all. I took this photo yesterday. It seemed a lot of people were enjoying Rosa Parks Circle.

 

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Today, after a 5 hour trial, I was waiting for the Judge to render his verdict.

 

The Judge took the bench and, before telling the parties his decision, he conducted a video arraignment – someone charged with a crime who was sitting in jail.

 

 

The young man was 18 years old.

The Judge asked the young man a question: his question and the young man’s answer stuck with me.  (Even after the Judge rendered a decision on my case.)

 

The Judge asked the young man: “do your parents know you are in jail?

 

Answer from the young man: “Yeah, she knows.

 

I will state the obvious: The fact that this young man when speaking of his parents makes no reference to a father in his life is both telling and heartbreaking.

 

This reality is simply not how the world should be.

 

And, unfortunately, this story is typical.

 

Fatherless Generation

I took these statistics from the Fatherless Generation

  • Father Factor in Incarceration – Even after controlling for income, youths in father-absent households still had significantly higher odds of incarceration than those in mother-father families. Youths who never had a father in the household experienced the highest odds. A 2002 Department of Justice survey of 7,000 inmates revealed that 39% of jail inmates lived in mother-only households. Approximately forty-six percent of jail inmates in 2002 had a previously incarcerated family member. One-fifth experienced a father in prison or jail.

    Father Factor in Crime – A study of 109 juvenile offenders indicated that family structure significantly predicts delinquency. Adolescents, particularly boys, in single-parent families were at higher risk of status, property and person delinquencies. Moreover, students attending schools with a high proportion of children of single parents are also at risk. A study of 13,986 women in prison showed that more than half grew up without their father. Forty-two percent grew up in a single-mother household and sixteen percent lived with neither parent

 

In the fall I will begin once again again mentoring an elementary aged student.

Each of the students that I have met with over the years has had a lack of a father figure in his life.

I look at these statistics, and ask myself:

is it worthwhile spending one hour a week during the school year with a boy who needs a positive male role model?

The answer every time is “Yes.

I wonder about this  young man that I saw on video arraignment today – how would his life be different if he had a different answer to the Judge’s question? “Yes, they know”

 

My question for you – “who are you pouring into?

 

E-mail: Jeshua@dwlawpc.com

www.dwlawpc.com

Twitter: @JeshuaTLauka

Today OCC Begins Accepting National Bank Charter Applications From FinTech Companies

It’s Tuesday in Grand Rapids. Beautiful mid-70s, a bit overcast and if you look carefully you can see the reflection of my shirt as I took the photo from my office window…

Today, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) announced it will begin accepting applications for national bank charters from fintech companies.

7.31

 

Joseph M. Ottin, Comptroller of the Currency gave the following remarks concerning Fintech Companies:

“The federal banking system must continue to evolve and embrace innovation to meet the changing customer needs and serve as a source of strength for the nation’s economy,” 

Mr. Ottin also commented that accepting applications from Fintech Companies:

helps provide more choices to consumers and businesses, and creates greater opportunity for companies that want to provide banking services in America.”

 

You can read the full press release here.

Fintech recap…

The prior OCC, Thomas Curry announced last year that OCC would move forward with considering applications from financial technology (fintech) companies to become special purpose national banks.

 

“The OCC published a paper discussing the issues and conditions that the agency will consider in granting special purpose national bank charters.” You can check that paper out here

What’s made clear from the press release is that “[e]very application will be evaluated on its unique facts and circumstances.

 

Fintech Charter: Praise, Debate, Criticism and a Lawsuit.

The propriety of a Fintech charter has been supported by the Fintech community in general.

 

As previously reported by Crowdfund InsiderBrian Peters, Executive Director of Financial Innovation Now  “a public policy coalition comprised of Amazon, Apple, Google, Intuit and PayPal” stated;

“FIN believes that payments and lending regulation needs streamlining for the modern era. We commend the

OCC’s leadership and vision in driving this regulatory discussion. The OCC has rightly concluded that its approach must evolve to ensure that all American consumers and small businesses are empowered with better access to the benefits of financial technology.”

According to Crowdfund Insider  “Fintech Charter could benefit innovative financial firms that can provide superior services at a lower cost for both consumers and businesses.”

That being said, the propriety of such action by the OCC has been questioned by others, and officially sued by the Conference of State Bank Supervisors as an “unprecedented, unlawful expansion of the chartering authority”- check out the Press Release from the CSBS back in April of last year.

 

 

Why Fintech Intrigues me – Purpose Driven.

 

I’ve previously talked about why fintech is so intriguing.

I’ve highlighted some fintech companies doing unique things in the past, like Lemonade.

a. taking a risk doing something different (being an innovator);

b. disrupting business as usual;

c. for the good of others (being mission driven).

 

That’s social entrepreneurship at its finest.

 

Questions? Comments?

e-mail: Jeshua@dwlawpc.com

http://www.dwlawpc.com

Twitter: @JeshuaTLauka