A B corp Oregon, also called a benefit company, is a type of corporation that institutes goals that go beyond financial goals and profits for its owners and is formed in the state of Oregon.

B Corporations in Portland, Oregon

Over 1,000 certified B corporations, in more than 60 industries and from 33 different countries, are working together to redefine business success. Several of the B corporations leading this global movement are located in Portland, Oregon.

All of these B corporations must meet rigorous standards, including those focused on:

  • Accountability
  • Social performance
  • Transparency
  • Environmental performance

These organizations compete to be the best in the world, as well as the best for the world.

The success of these corporations has allowed communities and individuals across the globe to enjoy more economic opportunities, while our society has been forced to address many of its challenging and complex environmental problems. Those working in and for these B corporations can also find greater fulfillment in their lives as they participate in the movement.

What Is a Benefit Company (B-Corp)?

A B corp, also referred to as a benefit company, is a legal corporation that has goals to do more than just create profits for its owners, who are called stockholders.

Standard corporations are judged on the returns provided to shareholders. B corps are unique in that their emphasis is on social values along with returns to shareholders. Examples of these social values and goals include:

  • Serving the community
  • Reducing carbon footprints
  • Diversifying workforces

Although a B corporation isn't a new business entity, it does offer a new way to think about doing business. This formation is a designation of business types that already exist, such as C corps, S corps, and LLCs. The Oregon Secretary of State, Kate Brown, said that the legislation around benefit companies allows organizations in the state to define themselves by more than just financial goals and achievements. These organizations can focus more on their social goals and how they can benefit the community.

Benefit Companies Focused on Sustainability Now Legal in Oregon

The governor of Oregon, John Kitzhaber, recently signed a bill into effect allowing companies to register as B corps. These businesses must meet certain requirements in terms of offering social and environmental benefits. Being designated as a B corp comes with a recognition that the business is providing employees with a better quality of life and/or conserving natural resources. The non-profit B Lab certifies certain companies as B corporations.

Tobias Read of Beaverton, a state representative, served as a co-sponsor of the bill. Read stated that this bill would offer legal protection to companies striving to achieve more than just financial gains. Only 18 other states in the United States have legislation in effect that offers similar protections. Read also said that working for a benefit company allows individuals to apply their personal values in the workplace, allowing an organization to set those values and ensure that all employees believe in the mission.

Although registering as a B corp in Oregon doesn't come with any specific tax benefits, offering this legal formation could draw certain companies to operate in the state, as well as keep existing companies from leaving.

The co-owner of Independence Gardens, Karen Wolfing, talked about her plans to register a new business allowing people to plant their own edible gardens. This business will be registered as a B corporation because it aligns with Wolfing's mission to aid in the sustainable growth of food. Wolfing also stated that the B corporation offers another way to incorporate an eco-friendly business that is committed to helping others. By registering as a benefit company, business owners can focus on their goals while reporting back to the community about the success of the business.

Another business owner, Kristopher Lofgren, mentioned that his business has been certified as a B corporation for many years. Lofgren welcomes the change to Oregon legislature as it potentially offers him additional legal protection in the state of Oregon, especially if he chooses to sell his business, Bamboo Sushi. When a business is registered as a B corporation, a new owner wouldn't be able to change the ethical and environmental goals of the organization as easily, according to Lofgren.

He also stated that his commitment to operate his business in alignment with the environmental and social goals typically reduces profits by up to 10 percent, but in his mind, the benefits far outweigh the potential losses.

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