July 4th is always a good time to think anew about the link between personal freedom and overall economic prosperity. How, we ask, are the principles under which this great country was founded – liberty, justice for all, democracy, opportunity – guiding our market economy. Are the laws and regulations that shape commerce embracing those principles or enabling a relative few to benefit? Are they helping to foster a more just and sustainable future? The answer is mixed.
Late last month, the Supreme Court rejected a challenge to the Citizens United ruling that effectively invalidated a 100 year old Montana state law limiting the amount of money that could be spent on state races. Citizens United redux, we thought, dismayed with the growing influence of money in politics. A few days later, the same Court ruled that the Affordable Care Act was constitutional, thus establishing the importance of universal health care. We agree – health care is a basic right and will strengthen our economy. The same week, Frank Knapp, President of the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce and ASBC Vice Chair, testified before the House Small Business Committee during which he noted that the much-maligned Regulatory Flexibility Act benefits small businesses and that its effectiveness would be enhanced if Congress would provide more resources to agencies like the EPA. The Act serves to protect public health while unleashing entrepreneurial innovations and creating jobs. Frank added that attempts to defund EPA or to refuse to reform the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act inhibits the development of new, greener and safer products.
Earlier in the month, ASBC business supporter, Ally Latourelle from Bioamber testified before the House Committee on Science, Space & Technology, Subcommittee on Investigations & Oversight, and Committee on Small Business Subcommittee on Healthcare & Technology when they held a hearing called: How the Report on Carcinogens Uses Science to Meet its Statutory Obligations, and its Impact on Small Business Jobs. Ms. Latourelle presented the business case for science as a driver for business innovation and the opportunities for business to grow via use of non-toxic chemicals.
With an eye to influencing the direction of the Administration’s economic agenda, ASBC brought together in the middle of June, 125 business executives, investors, and business organization leaders for the first ever Business Summit for a Sustainable Economy at the White House. Twenty nine Administration officials representing a very wide range of departments and agencies including; Cecilia Munoz, Director, Domestic Policy Council at the White House; Lisa Jackson, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency; Hilda Solis, Secretary of Labor, Nancy Sutley, Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality, Kathleen Merrigan, Assistant Secretary of Agriculture, Dr. Michael Hash of the Department of Health and Human Services, Don Graves, Assistant Secretary of the Treasury Department and Greg Nelson, Chief of Staff for the National Economic Policy Council met and dialogued with ASBC business leaders from around the country.
The discussions covered technological and social innovation, taxes, health care, environment, small business, green buildings, manufacturing, green procurement, safer chemicals, and community economic development. A theme returned to time and again was how externalities (social and environmental) incurred by business operations prevent real progress being made on sustainability and how full-cost accounting is a concept whose time has finally come. Another important theme was the growing importance that triple bottom line companies play in creating a more sustainable and democratic economy. David Levine, ASBC’s CEO kicked off the White House Summit by reading the “Call for a New Economy”. The next day, our group travelled to Capitol Hill to hold 35 meetings, presenting ideas to both parties on the economic benefits of sustainable policy ideas.
As the summer heats up, we’re looking forward to participating in both the Republican (August 27th-Tampa) and Democratic (Charlotte, NC – September 5th) Conventions with policy forums at both. Our presence is a reminder of the importance that business leaders have a critical role to play in ensuring that the principles of democracy and liberty remain at the core of our dynamic economy. We look forward to working with you all.
ASBC Welcomes New Partner – Stay Local! (New Orleans)
Stay Local! aims to help local independent businesses compete effectively. Through our website, print guides, business summits, and marketing campaigns we provide businesses with a networking platform connecting them affordably to new markets, new resources, and each other. www.staylocal.org
ASBC Welcomes New Partner – Sustainable Business Network of Greater Boston?
Founded in 1988, The Sustainable Business Network of Greater Boston (SBN) is an organization of individuals, business and community leaders committed to changing the way the World does business. Once known as the RBA (Responsible Business Association), SBN changed its name in 2006 to reflect the growing consensus that, in order to survive and thrive, businesses must minimize the impact that their activities have on the earth’s natural systems. http://sbnboston.org
New Business Supporters
ASBC Welcomes – Prestwick House?
Prestwick House is Delaware’s premier educational publisher with over 1,500 books in print and customers in every US state and territory. Dedicated to design, editorial, and curriculum development excellence, Prestwick House products have regularly been recognized by the Association of Educational Publishers for their high quality. Prestwick House is dedicated to employee satisfaction and engagement and has made the Book Business Magazine list of the country’s top 15 publishers to work for regularly since 2007. www.prestwickhouse.com
ASBC Welcomes – Beauty Counter?
Too many cosmetics companies—including well-known brands—use ingredients that can cause harm to human health or the environment. And other companies that use safer or more sustainable ingredients often have products that simply do not perform the way the customer expects them to. The cosmetics industry is in need of a “counter revolution,” and Beauty Counter is delivering. We’re making safe products that people want to use, sold in a friendly, personal way by women who are financially empowered by an innovative business model, complete with meaningful relationships with our nonprofit Cause partners.
We work to ensure that every interaction creates an opportunity for education and change for the better; we always share our knowledge and passion for environmental health and women’s financial empowerment.http://beautycounter.com
ASBC Welcomes – Greyston Bakery Inc.
Greyston Bakery, Inc. has been baking gourmet desserts and good will just north of New York City since 1982. The $8 million for-profit bakery is best known for its long-standing status as Ben & Jerry’s brownie supplier and for having an open-hiring policy that provides the people of Yonkers, NY with employment opportunity regardless of work history.
Consistent with its social mission, profits from Greyston Bakery support the Greyston Foundation’s community development initiatives, including low-income housing, childcare, health services, and technology education. Greyston Bakery continues to be a pioneer in the world of social enterprise and recently became New York State’s first Benefit Corporation. www.greystonbakery.com
ASBC Welcomes – WorldBlu
WorldBlu is a leadership and business design studio elevating the human spirit and inspiring freedom through organizational democracy and freedom-centered leadership. Our vision is to build a more democratic world, one organization at a time.
We do this through a range of projects and services enabling business leaders to design, develop, and lead the most successful democratic companies in the world. WorldBlu produces an annual List of the Most Democratic Workplaces in the world. www.worldblu.com
From the Basement to the White House in Seven Months
It’s always satisfying to meet your goals. And for ASBC that meant holding a full-day ‘Business Summit for a Sustainable Economy’ at the White House on June 12th. Back in October of 2011 while gathered in a basement conference room at a Washington, D.C. hotel, we set our sights on organizing a national gathering to highlight the growing voice of sustainable businesses. With the support of Labor Secretary Hilda Solis and a very cooperative White House staff, we realized our goal two weeks ago.
The 125 business executives, investors, and business organization leaders we brought to the White House, and the next day to Capitol Hill, presented and discussed strategies and policy ideas derived from their own businesses, or those in which they invest. Twenty-nine Administration officials representing a very wide range of departments and agencies met with and briefed the ASBC audience. A special thank you to those of you who made it to DC for this event.
A Business Call for a New Economy
David Levine, ASBC’s CEO kicked off ASBC’s Business Summit at White House Summit by reading the “Call for a New Economy”. The document stresses the need for vibrant, equitable, and sustainable economic development. The call is based on principles of true markets, broad prosperity, sustainability, sensible regulations and democratic control. This is a call for a new economy one that was submitted to the White House and will submitted to congress. What we hope you can do is load it on your website to share with your community. We hope this will be a useful tool to articulate the common framing for a sustainable economy.
ASBC is planning on putting together a video featuring a reading of this letter, the video will feature overlaid images of our membership. We would like to collect pictures of your business, organization, staff and main streets. Any images of your sustainable businesses in action are of particular importance. Please send all images to [email protected]
Practice Greenhealth and ASBC Create a New Partnership Dedicated to Creating a More Sustainable Health Care Industry
As the business community focus intensifies its focus on sustainable practices and environmental stewardship, the healthcare sector is taking an increasing active role. Health care facilities are revamping their procurement requirements to emphasize environmentally sound products, build energy efficient structures and introduce healthy food and wellness programs.
Because of these efforts, the American Sustainable Business Council and Practice Greenhealth have developed a partnership that encourages joint membership. With over 1,200 health care facility members, more than 70 business members, and the largest Group Purchasing Organizations in the nation, Practice Greenhealth is the leading membership organization in the health care sector dedicated to environmental sustainability.
Now, members of ASBC can receive a 15 percent discount on Practice Greenhealth membership. The same applies to PGH members who join ASBC.
Practice Greenhealth membership is an efficient and effective way to:
- Reach critical decision makers in the most forward-thinking health care facilities across the country.
- Keep up on the latest information and trends on sustainability in health care.
- Build your brand with prospective customers in the healthcare industry.
- Work collaboratively with the health care sector.
Fixing the Future – July 18 & 19
A new documentary film, Fixing the Future, hosted by public radio’s David Brancaccio will air in theaters across the country on July 18th. ??Please check the screening schedule to find locations and screening times. Following the documentary there will be an exclusive onscreen discussion panel featuring luminariesBill McKibben, Majora Carter, ASBC business supporter Mike Brady of Greyston Bakery and David Brancaccio .
Supreme Court Upholds Healthcare Law, ASBC Speaks Up
ASBC, partner organizations and business supporters stepped up to praise the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act. ASBC’s statement was supported by contributions from Vermont Business for Social Responsibility and the South Carolina Small Business Chamber, while the New Mexico Green Chamber of Commerce identified business leader Positive Energy for an interview with the Washington Post. VBSR’s Danforth Pewter also contributed an opinion piece in the Washington Post.
Supreme Court Denies Citizens United Challenge
On June 26, the Supreme Court extended the damage of the Citizens United decision, allowing unlimited and unaccounted for campaign spending, by overturning Montana’s century-old ban on corporate spending in state elections. ASBC, along with other groups, filed an amicus brief urging the high court to take advantage of the Montana appellate case to revisit or at least limit the scope of the Citizens United ruling. Sign ASBC’s Business for Democracy petition for a constitutional amendment at the Business for Democracy campaign page.
Benefit Corporation Bills Pass in SC, LA
Benefit Corporation legislation continues to progress across the country with the first two states in the South to pass bills. South Carolina and Louisiana are now the 8th and 9th states to enact the new corporate framework law, with both enjoying broad bipartisan support. The Illinois legislation is awaiting the Governor’s signature. ASBC will continue to work with our partner BLab as more states are likely to take up bills in 2013.
Strong Business Voice for EPA Carbon Rule
More than 450 business leaders provided comments to the EPA in support of a proposed rule that limits carbon pollution from new power plants. The proposed rule would create certainty in the marketplace, incentivize clean energy investments and make progress in addressing climate change. The business comments contributed to the historic 2 million supportive comments collected by various organizations. The EPA now will review the comments and issue a final rule later this year.
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