Kentucky Passes Benefit Corporation Legislation
Back in September of last year, we wrote about the value for small businesses becoming a Benefit Corporation as the new session for the Kentucky General Assembly was ramping up and House Bill 35 was still being shaped. Now we find ourselves on the tail end of the 2017 session with House Bill 35 officially written into law, making Kentucky the 32nd state to approve Benefit Corporation legislation!
Many wonderful people helped make this possible – especially the co-signers on the bill: Representative Jerry Miller and Senator Paul Hornback. Without them, Greater Louisville Inc as a champion, and local business owners like Scott Koloms, Chad Rosen, and Ben Reno-Weber, this law might not have made it this year…THANK YOU! So as we celebrate, we also acknowledge, this is simply the start.
How Might We Encourage Benefit Corporation in Kentucky?
Educate: We have so many amazing companies in the Commonwealth that already align purpose with profit. Now it’s time to ensure they understand the benefits of Benefit Corporation and start the process to make the switch. We also graduate a large number of young adults every year that get excited about these opportunities and yet, still are not sure of next steps or ways to plug in. Start-Up Weekends, Business Model Competitions and prize money to support these new entrepreneurs, would help improve the quality and quantity of newly formed Benefit Corporation across the Commonwealth.
Incent: Now is the time to introduce new and creative solutions that incentivize companies that pursue a Benefit Corporation. A key advantage for small businesses becoming a Benefit Corporation is their ability to maintain long-term programs that are of direct value to our community. A triple bottom line approach ensures not only profit and jobs, but external engagement that contributes towards designations like “Most Compassionate City.” There are many positive ways in which this ability to start a Benefit Corporation in KY align with both our local Mayor’s initiatives as well as the Governor’s goals to be an economic powerhouse. We could start simply by establishing a “Best for KY” or “Best for Louisville” challenge would incentivize adoption. We also need to get serious about tax incentives that might also support this effort. Some cities use special subsidies or even points on government contracts for a Benefit Corporation.
Attract: 75% of the workforce by 2030 will be millennials and over 80% of millennials want to work for a company with a positive social or environmental impact on their community. Moreover, who doesn’t want to work for a company that has more than profit for shareholders as it’s objective? How do we now create an atmosphere inviting to this new generation of changemakers and work to attract companies that desire both impact and profit.
It is an exciting time for Kentucky and it’s a wonderful accomplishment to see HB35 signed into law. We’re eager to educate everyone on this great opportunity; think of creative ways to incentivize adoption, and work to attract companies pursuing purpose and profit that will help grow our Commonwealth.
What can you do today to spread the word and help to make Kentucky home to more Benefit Corporations than any other state?
Written by Bryce Butler @brycebutler