Sustainable Business Forum to seek independent nonprofit status

November 7, 2008
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The West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum, organized with the help of the West Michigan Environmental Action Council in 1994, is filing the legal papers to become a separate nonprofit entity.

Marylu Dykstra of Sirius Resources LLC, who is chair of the Sustainable Business Forum, said its board of directors voted in October to apply for 501(c)3 nonprofit status.

Dykstra said this is "not at all" a parting of the ways between WMEAC and the forum.

"This is an opportunity for both the Sustainable Business Forum and WMEAC to continue their individual missions. We will maintain representation with a WMEAC representative on our board. We continue to plan to be cooperative partners."

She said the Sustainable Business Forum has not determined yet where it would be based. The membership is now evaluating the need for an executive director of the organization.

According to an announcement from the business forum, it has grown substantially over the past 14 years — “and with it, the need for additional information, programming and networking activities to support its mission to lead, educate and initiate sustainable business practices.”

As a certified nonprofit organization, the forum "will be in a position to continue to implement its new strategic plan and increase its outreach and collaboration in West Michigan and with the other independent Sustainable Business Forums throughout the state. This is an exciting growth step for the WMSBF and is a demonstrable representation of its commitment to serve its community," according to the announcement.

WMEAC has provided fiduciary and administrative support to the WMSBF. The boards of both organizations will begin "collaborative planning efforts" this month to facilitate the change in relationship.

According to the forum’s Web site, it is an "organization of area companies united in their commitment to the principle of a concept known today as the 'Triple Bottom Line.' The Triple Bottom Line and the mission of the forum is to promote business practices that demonstrate environmental stewardship, economic vitality and social responsibility."

The group meets monthly to consider new topics in sustainable business and share information about members’ own "best practices." Dykstra said there are about 90 member organizations in the WMSBF. About 90 percent of those are businesses but other members include nonprofit organizations, educational institutions and government entities.

The board of directors includes representatives of Aquinas College, Fishbeck Thompson Carr & Huber, WMEAC, Steelcase Inc., Allied Waste, Herman Miller, Nederveld, Michigan Departrment of Environmental Quality, The Right Place, Alticor and Cascade Engineering.

At its last meeting in October, WMSBF hosted an executive from GreenLife, a New York firm that trades in carbon offsets and renewable energy certificates.

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