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Can sustainable business and economic development work together?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Article by GreenBiz.com

Studies from the likes of Harvard, MIT and the HIP Investor demonstrate the positive economic impact implementing environmental and social innovation programs have on corporate market value. We also know the importance social programs have in providing service and financial health to our communities.

The studies quantitatively show the corporate financial impact of doing well by doing good. Yet when economic development agencies enter this conversation, social entrepreneurial program viability is dismissed as trivial or some form of ersatz nonprofit charity. One reason is the absence of direct studies of the relationship between social innovation and economic development in the United States.

When my book, "Creating Good Work – The World's Leading Social Entrepreneurs Show How to Build a Healthy Economy," came out, we thought the concept was something akin to a warm puppy -- something everyone wanted to hold.  

But what we encountered from the traditional business economic development agencies came as a bit of a shock: "We don't care if we're creating good work or bad, we just want to create work."

When I assured them that they might not want anyone to hear what they were saying, they recognized the potency of their declaration. However, when I mentioned The HIP Investor's statistics to these mavens -- that companies with a higher ratio of human impact to profit (HIPness) than other companies outperform the market by 4 to 5 percent -- they visably recoiled.

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