Archive for September, 2015

Looking for Social Entrepreneurs and Business Leaders to Prosper our Local Communities

September 10, 2015 1 comment

Last week I attended an event held by the Koeze Business Ethics Initiative at Grand Valley State University. the conversation was titled: “Social Capital, Economic Diversity and Civic Well-Being in Flint and Grand Rapids

The room was packed full of leaders in the Grand Rapids and Flint Communities interested in hearing about, in the words of Dr. Michael DeWilde “what we can do to better encourage practices and policies that will help ensure a city’s…prosperity in the long term.”

I was privileged to sit at a table with Kevin Stotts of Talent 2025; Elissa Hillary of Local First Emily Loeks of Celebation Cinemas, Ellie Frey Zagel of Family Business Alliance and  Keith Maki and John Longschamp of Cascade Engineering.

These leaders are tackling the issue on a daily basis  – how do we ensure our local community’s long term prosperity?

A few take aways for me:

1. Michigan is not a B-Corp State – Why  not?

I’ve previously written and presented on Beneficial corporations (B-Corps).       27 states (excluding Michigan) allow for the formation of “B-Corporations”  Essentially, B-Corps have two purposes:

a. to create profit; and                                                                                                         b.  “create a material positive impact on society and the environment”

B-Corps also Impose heightened fiduciary duties on their board of directors – to  consider social/environmental consequences for board decisions.

Not in Michigan…

Bills that would authorize the formation of B-Corps have been proposed, but never enacted.

B-Corps are a way for businesses to instill at their most fundamental level, values that go well-beyond merely turning a profit for its shareholders.

It’s about time for another bill to be introduced (and passed) in the Michigan legislature.

2. We need more  business leaders sacrificially engaging our community. 

We need more business leaders committed to actively serving.

From Dr. DeWilde and Davis’ study, it appears that there is a correlation to a prosperous cities and cities where the business community is actively engaged in non-profit service.

Needs are all around us in our local community.  At some level, all of us who work in the business community know this. The problem is, there is often a disconnect between the conceptual problems like “poverty” “broken homes” “hunger” “substance abuse” and how we let those realities affect our daily lives.

We need more people who are willing to simply show up and engage the needs in our local community on a personal level.

I like to use my church, Crossroads Bible Church as an example. Crossroads is part of the Westside Grand Rapids neighborhood.  We have come alongside Stocking Elementary School to serve the children in that school in many ways.  Some of our members have taken to mentor students. Before then, most of these mentors knew, in theory, that there were children growing up in poverty and broken homes in Grand Rapids (even if they hadn’t experienced those situations themselves).  Now, they can put a face and a name to children in desperate need of adult role models.  We have become invested.

We need more people who are willing to just show up and engage the needs all around us.   Just show up.

3. Crowdfunding to support our local businesses.

How do we get people in our community to support local business?

Support equity crowdfunding for locally owned start-up businesses.

We know that crowdfunding has worked so well for community development. The MEDC’s matching grant program is proof of this.

Get local investors excited about owning a stake in a local business. Take an active role in bettering our community.

Questions? Comments?