Dear American Sustainable Business Council Community,
ASBC Heartily Welcomed at the White House
Policymaking is as much about offering good ideas as it is about creating relationships. With the assistance of Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, a champion for the work of ASBC, we brought a delegation of twenty-four people to the White House on June 2nd. There we met with representatives from The President's Jobs Council, Council of Economic Advisors, National Economic Council, Department of Labor, Department of Treasury, Small Business Association, Office of Public Engagement and Office of Science and Technology Policy. Our goal was to share innovative strategies and policies that are creating jobs and fostering a more sustainable American economy.
Following brief remarks by Greg Nelson, Office of Public Engagement, David Levine, ASBC Executive Director, and Richard Eidlin, ASBC Campaigns Director, about what constitutes a sustainable economy; the ASBC team began a series of short and content rich presentations. Within a few minutes, Don Graves, Executive Director of the Jobs Council interrupted to say, “I’ve been to hundreds of meetings in my two years in the White House and this is definitely the most compelling group of people I’ve ever met with. Thank you for your work and for coming to Washington today.” With that, a new relationship was born.
For the next 80 minutes, the ASBC team presented a wide range of ideas on:
Economic development initiatives that spur entrepreneurship, high road employment, community investment programs, the importance of microenterprises and the need for capital access by small businesses;
Domestic manufacturing in the areas of transportation, renewable energy systems and hand crafted products;
Clean technology, electronic recycling and green chemistry initiatives;
Sustainable business models, including coops, business incubators, and full cost accounting measures;
Healthcare initiatives including coops, integrated healthcare and the growth of the organic food industry.
The questions from the White House team touched on a range of issues, including: how best to address externalities; the role of information technologies in measuring social impacts; the use of data transparency to inform consumers of the comparative benefits of organic and locally grown food; the role of mobile apps in encouraging workplace health initiatives; the economic value of mining electronic waste; strategies to encourage federal agencies to buy domestically manufactured goods; how technical assistance centers can support micro-entrepreneurs and ideas for how the SBA can better appreciate the importance of coops. Time and again, White House staff noted the vital importance that sustainability minded companies could play in advocating for policy change in Congress. As one official noted, “ there is a need for forward-thinking companies to stand up and make the business case for building a sustainable economy on Capital Hill and to the media:”
The meeting concluded with a commitment for individual White House staff to reconvene with ASBC partners around specific initiatives. ASBC also proposed a fall Business Summit for a New Economy; a national gathering of organizations and companies committed to developing a sustainable economy and building the success of the triple bottom line, sustainable business practices and sustainable economic development. As Frank Knapp, President of the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce, noted on the way back to ASBC’s office, “This was an excellent first meeting, full of give and take and a synergy of interests."
Join us to continue to build the business voice and opportunities for a new economy.
David Levine, Cofounder & Executive Director & Richard Eidlin, Campaigns Director www.asbcouncil.org
Action: ASBC has compiled a list of more than 45 job creation initiatives suggested by its partner organizations and business supporters and is continuing to look for more. You are invited to submit a job creation initiative or idea by sending your two page write-up to David Levine in the following format:
Name of Initiative
Summary including prime objective(s)
Job creation and economy boosting opportunities (please provide statistics if available)
Action(s) needed: Legislative, administrative and otherwise
ASBC Campaign Updates Climate/Energy The Climate & Energy Working Group has efforts underway to support the forthcoming PACE Assessment Protection Act of 2011, introduced by Representatives Dan Lungren (R-CA3), Mike Thompson (D-CA1) and Nan Hayworth (R-NY19). The Act protects local governments’ authority to establish Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) programs. PACE programs are an innovative type of municipal finance that makes it easier for home and business owners to install energy saving improvements.
Also, join with other businesses in asking Congress to affirm EPA’s authority to regulate carbon emissions by signing our petition.
ASBC sent a letter to President Obama urging him to officially nominate Elizabeth Warren as Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) by July 21, 2011, the designated transfer date when the CFPB assumes consumer protection responsibilities currently held by other federal agencies. ASBC supported Ms. Warren’s initial nomination in July 2010 when her appointment was under consideration.
Chemical Policy Reform
ASBC co-sponsored a Safer Chemicals in Products Forum on June 9 with the Business NGO Working Group on Safer Chemicals and Sustainable Materials. The forum allowed businesses, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and governments to find common ground in the movement to use inherently safer chemicals in products. The following day, ASBC held a briefing for Congressional staff on Capitol Hill where three business leaders discussed the ways their companies were working to reduce or eliminate hazardous chemicals in their products.
Action: Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) has introduced The Safe Chemicals Act of 2011, and your business voice is crucial to tell the story of how we can regulate hazardous chemicals and drive innovative and business profits through meaningful legislation.
Business for Democracy ASBC’s Business for Democracy campaign and Free Speech for People held a webinar on June 7 offering
a business perspective on Citizens United and challenging the notion that corporations are people
with constitutional rights, including limitless financial license to influence our elections. The webinar
featured Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield (Ben & Jerry’s), national advocates for a constitutional
amendment to overturn Citizens United; John Bonifaz and Jeff Clements of Free Speech for People,
who presented the historical and legal background and rationale for challenging the fabricated doctrine
of corporate rights under the Constitution; and ASBC Executive Director David Levine.
Action: For more information and to take action, we invite all business leaders who share our concern that the 2010 Citizens United decision undermines our democracy and a fair, competitive economy to sign the Business for Democracy Statement of Support at www.businessfordemocracy.com. For more background on the Amendment, see Free Speech For People.
Benefit Corporation legislation was unanimously passed by the New York State legislature and Senate last week and has been sent to the Governor’s desk for signature. If signed into law, New York will become the fifth state in the nation to allow Benefit Corporations, joining Maryland, Vermont, New Jersey, and Virginia.
ASBC and lead partner B-Lab are working to secure passage of Benefit Corporation legislation in other key states such as California and Michigan.
Business for a Fair Minimum Wage
An adequate minimum wage is a vital part of a vibrant, just and sustainable economy. But today’s mandated federal and state minimum wages have much less buying power than they had in the 1960s. The minimum wage would be more than $10 today if it had kept pace with the rising cost of living since the 1960s. Today’s inadequate minimum wage means poverty for working families and undermines our businesses and our economy.
Tax Havens and Tax Abuse
There’s momentum building in Congress for a massive tax holiday for corporations using offshore tax havens. Lobbyists are even making progress with members of Congress who ordinarily would be against this kind of tax giveaway. They need to hear from us now!
Please tell your Senators and Representative there’s nothing patriotic about this “repatriation tax holiday.” It won’t create jobs. It won’t help domestic business. They should support real economic stimulus and small business lending, not a corporate tax giveaway.
Learn more about the plan and see what fellow business people say in a recent Huffington Post article.
Sustainable Agriculture Working Group
The seminal Farm Bill will be debated in Congress beginning later this year. ASBC is gearing up to ensure that the Bill supports small farmers, organic and quality food, water conservation, rural development, and local food production. For more information, contact Richard Eidlin.
ASBC Around the Country ASBC Speaks at NetRoots Nation Conference
Richard Eidlin, ASBC Campaigns Director, joined with some 2,500 bloggers and activists at the 6th annual NetRoots Nation conference in Minneapolis, June 16-19th. With dozens of organizations exhibiting, tech savvy twitternistas tapping away on their laptops, four U.S. Senators and a larger number of House members in attendance, the conference was a hub of dialogue, positive stories, and insights into how to build a sustainable economy.
Richard participated in a session on “The U.S. Chamber of Commerce: How Corporate Front Groups are Corrupting our Democracy.” The panel highlighted how over the past two years, the Chamber has spent over $100 million lobbying against climate legislation, while also fighting to roll back environmental regulations, defeat financial regulatory and campaign finance reform, and doing nothing to prevent the off shoring of American jobs. Richard spoke about ASBC’s growth and role in becoming a "policy counterweight" to the Chamber. He noted that ASBC’s aggregated membership now rivals that of the Chamber. Joining him were Jamie Henn of 350.org, Phil Radford of Greenpeace, Per Olstad of Change to Win, and Brad Johnson of American Progress.
Netroots Conference Panel Session – Jamie Henn, Per Olstad, Richard Eidlin, and Phil Radford.
9th Annual BALLE Business Conference Inspired Hundreds
Last week, some 600 local economy leaders, entrepreneurs, investors and thought leaders convened in Bellingham, Wash., to connect and share the best models working on the ground to build local, sustainable, and fair economies. Featured speakers included acclaimed author Naomi Klein, living building leader Jason McLennan, and Michael Peck (ASBC advisory board member) of Mondragon, the world's largest industrial co-op. Co-hosted with Sustainable Connection, the conference showcased Bellingham as a hub of local living. The conference also explored emerging topics including how to accelerate community capital investments and unleash innovative economic solutions locally as well as a panel, moderated by Arizona First, featuring ASBC member organizations Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility, Fay-Penn Economic Development Council, and also Local First DC. Visit the conference photo and video gallery to learn more.
ASBC Hosts Conference Call with Rep. Keith Ellison, Co-Chair of Congressional Progressive Caucus
On June 15,, 2011, ASBC hosted a conference call with Congressman Keith Ellison, a Democrat from the 5th District in Minnesota and the co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. The conference call covered issues ranging from small business capital access to energy and taxes.
Congressman Ellison opened with comments regarding his support for a sustainable economy that promoted small businesses, green businesses, and women and minority-run businesses. He stated that while many others on Capitol Hill shared his views, they simply didn’t hear enough from business voices supporting these issues. He added that it was helpful to have a voice like ASBC that is active on Capitol Hill and across the country that represents the business community and private sector.
The Congressman stated that he believed America should invest in public infrastructure and that if we are able to direct capital toward transportation and education, these investments can help build a more robust economy. He said that the country needed more businesses to embody a long-term view, one that encompassed not only economic prosperity but also a sustainable environment and safe communities.
ASBC Campaign Director Richard Eidlin said he hoped that the call represented the first in a number of future dialogues between ASBC and Congressman Ellison.
Safer Chemical Policies Capitol Hill Briefing
The American Sustainable Business Council, along with the Business NGO-Working Group, the Safer Chemicals Healthy Families Coalition and Congressman Henry Waxman, hosted a lunch briefing on June 10,, 2011 highlighting three businesses and their views on the benefits of safer chemical policies.
Panelists included Peter Syrett from Perkins+Wills, Howard Williams from Construction Specialties, and Barry Cik from Naturepedic. The panelists discussed how unsafe chemicals affect each of their individual businesses and why safer chemicals policies are critical for the safety of their customers. Each of the three business leaders said they aimed to achieve transparency in their companies and use healthier alternatives and noted the importance of reforming the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The Safe Chemical Act, now under consideration in the Senate, will support a leveling of the playing field and help expand the markets for safer and greener products that all businesses and consumers need among other benefits.
To support the movement for TSCA reform, sign on to ASBC’s letter of support here.
Announcements ASBC Welcomes Summer Interns
Four interns have joined ASBC to work on its campaigns this summer. Shreya Barot will be supporting the Business for Democracy campaign. Sean Griffin will be supporting ASBC’s legislative activities on Capitol Hill and the Corporate Tax Haven Abuse working group. Benjamin Cruikshank, who is jointly interning with ASBC partner GreenAmerica, will be supporting the Climate & Energy working group. Marguerite Conroy, who is jointly interning with ASBC partner National Latino Farmers and Ranchers Trade Association, will be supporting the Sustainable Agriculture working group.