Oregon Secretary of State Brown calls for Benefit company legislation

Oregon Secretary State Kate Brown will announce Monday plans to introduce legislation to support the legal formation of Benefit Companies in Oregon.

Oregon Secretary State Kate Brown will announce Monday plans to introduce legislation to support the legal formation of Benefit Companies in Oregon. 

Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown will announce Monday plans to introduce legislation in Oregon to support formation of social-good businesses known as Benefit companies.

Eleven states have so far passed laws to allow the legal formation of businesses that pursue a triple bottom line that includes economic, social and environmental performance.

Brown said Friday she sees Oregon's pursuit of similar legislation as important to a thriving economy.

"I want to make it as easy as possible to start or expand a company in Oregon," Brown said.

She added that businesses need "the freedom and protection to put people before profit."

The nonprofit B Lab organization has been working to get legislation passed to support the formation of what they call Benefit Corporations. The Philadelphia-based group also runs its own certification program to recognize companies, called B Corps., that have vowed to operate under the principles of being a Benefit company.

Brown said the legislation she expects to see passed next year will be Oregon's version of the Benefit Corporation passed in other states.

"We felt there needed to be a statutory structure to support the growing needs of entrepreneurs and investors who want their business to be a tool for solving social and environmental problems," Brown said.

There was an attempt in February to get Benefit Corporation legislation up for a vote in Salem, but the session ended before that happened.

Peter Threlkel, Oregon's corporation division director, said he worked with a group of interested lawyers to hammer out the state's own version of a Benefit Corporation statute, which will be available to corporations and LLCs.

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