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What is a B Corp?

What is a B Corp?

Catherine Kramer
2/20/14
Sustainable Business, Local Business

Recently someone started talking to me about B Corps.

“Oh yeah,” I said. “I know what those are.”

(True confession: I had no idea what those are.)

Thankfully, I have the internet to help me out.

Thankfully, you have me to summarize all the things I found out.

So here it is: “B Corp” is short for “benefit corporation,” which is a designation given to companies that are focused on environmental and social change in addition to monetary profits.

Standards for achieving this legal status are challenging and require a conscious effort on the behalf of the business owners to work for the betterment of society. B Corps are certified by B Lab, a nonprofit organization that believes in unifying companies around the world with their goal of making high ethical standards for business practices the new norm. You can think of B Corp certification like Fair Trade certification is to coffee.

You can also watch a super entertaining video describing B Corps here.

 

So now that you know what a B Corp is, finding out that Gazelle Sports recently achieved B Corp status is way more exciting.

DID YOU HEAR THAT?! GAZELLE SPORTS IS A B CORP!

(Appropriate excitement level reached.)

Gazelle Sports co-founder Chris Lampen-Cromwell talked with the Grand Rapids Urban Innovation Exchange about how this whole thing began.

“I went to one of the presentations and was like ‘wow, this is significant,’” Lampen-Crowell said. “It started my thought process. We really want to be a business that makes a difference to our employees, but also to our community. With that in mind, [the B Impact Assessment] was a true measure we could take and really see where we were at. It was more about measuring ourselves to determine what we could do to become a better company.”

For those familiar with the Gazelle, such a designation is no surprise, given their commitment to their customers and community. Lisa Rose Starner weighed in on the achievement of her favorite running store.

“Gazelle has not only a strong following in the running community, but they are leaders in our local business environment,” Starner said. “I want to support business that is mindful and transparent with their business model and is thoughtfully structured to not only be a financially viable business, but invest in their employees and give back to their community in meaningful ways.”

We love B Corps for many of the same reasons we love local businesses: they inherently care about the people and communities they serve. They strive to reduce environmental impact. They are interested in the triple bottom line.

So we celebrate with the two West Michigan businesses that are also B Corps: the recently-certified Gazelle Sports and the longstanding Cascade Engineering.

We also want to equip more local businesses to be able to measure and strive for sustainability in their business practices—focusing on profits, people, and the planet.

Read more about Gazelle and B Corps here.

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