Philadelphia City Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sánchez wants the city to become a hub for “benefit corporations” — for-profit companies that opt to meet certain social and environmental goals.
Right now, Sanchez said, Philadelphia is home to 25 so-called “b corps,” including software company Azavea, meeting space provider The Hub, and the Mugshots Coffeehouse chain. More widely known examples of these socially conscious businesses include e-commerce websites Etsy and Warby Parker. (The parent company that owns the Philadelphia Daily News and Inquirer newspapers, as well as the popular radio show ‘This American Life’ are incorporated as not-for-profit benefit corporations.)
While the terms “benefit corporations” and “b corps” are often used interchangeably, there is a difference. “B corps” refer to businesses that are certified and voluntarily adhere to a set of standards, such as paying employees living wages, recycling, or giving to local charities in addition to turning profits.
Benefit corporations are legally registered with the state, allowing shareholders to hold companies accountable if they’re not meeting their social or environmental missions.
Both types of businesses are welcome in Philadelphia and could stand to benefit from the new legislation she introduced Thursday, Quiñones-Sánchez said.
“We want to create an environment where if you believe in sustainable practices, if you believe you can make a profit and create a job — in particular for women and minorities — Philadelphia is going to open its arms and we are going to create a streamlined process for you to be profitable,” she said.
To lure more of these companies to Philadelphia, Quiñones-Sánchez introduced two bills: one would double the sustainable business tax credit to $8,000. The second would exempt new b-corps from the city’s business income and receipts tax for three years, up from two years under current law.
“We want the creative economy,” she said. “We want folks that are doing farm-to-table — any of those sustainable businesses. We want folks who are looking to get into those fields to start a business.”