First New York Benefit Corps Created

LES resident Dave Bolotsky (second from left) with Speaker Silver, Senator Squadron, Secretary of State Perales and other business leaders.

Last week elected officials and business leaders gathered at Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s office to celebrate the creation of a new kind of business in New York state.  Silver and State Senator Daniel Squadron pushed legislation through the Legislature late last year clearing the way for “benefit corporations.”  During a press briefing Friday, 14 companies stepped forward to take advantage of the new law.

Traditionally, public companies are obligated to act on behalf of their shareholders to maximize profits. Benefit corps, on the other hand, are able to take the public interest into account as well as the “bottom line.”  This means they are free to pursue socially responsible practices, such as protecting worker rights and safeguarding the environment.

Among those in attendance on Friday: Lower East Side resident Dave Bolotsky, the founder of Brooklyn-based UncommonGoods, which was certified as a sustainable business in 2007 through a non-profit organization called B Lab.  Bolotsky worked with B Lab to advocate for the New York state legislation enabling corporations to receive recognition for their public benefit mission.

Secretary of State Cesar Perales was on hand to help the new corporations file their paperwork. There were no Lower East Side firms represented in the initial filings. If you’re a business owner interested in benefit corporation status, there’s more info here.