Street Talk

Street Talk: What do you want to B? Good examples abound

Silver lining.

July 25, 2014
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Imagine working for a business that wants to improve your quality of life and increase the power of your impact outside the workplace — and where you are rewarded for reducing your travel impact, volunteering in your local community, eating local food, or reducing your waste.

Brewery Vivant is doing just that. And it’s also leading the way in organizational transparency by publishing an annual report about its economic, social and environmental impact. In the past year the brewery has: donated 11 percent of its profits to charities; shared all profits with its employees on its annual employee appreciation day; made 57.7 percent of all its purchases from Michigan companies; encouraged volunteerism, with employees volunteering 130 hours in the community.

Brewery Vivant recently joined the ranks of three other B Corporations in West Michigan and is now sharing and learning from other values-aligned businesses at monthly meetings facilitated by Local First.

One of the B Corps — Gazelle Sports — was so inspired by Brewery Vivant's employee incentive program that it implemented a similar program.

“Gazelle Sports is thrilled to be part of a growing group of certified B Corps in West Michigan. Local business peers offer a greater opportunity to share and access innovative best practices,” said Chris Lampen-Crowell, owner.

“In the past month, we have implemented an employee incentive program that supports individual change toward sustainability that was shared from Brewery Vivant, and an employee training program on diversity and culture from Cascade Engineering.”

Grand Rapids Community Foundation announced it is partnering with Local First through a $200,000 grant over the next three years to expand social entrepreneurship programming and to foster further connections between B Corp business owners in the Grand Rapids community. Programming will be open to all businesses and will give a forum for entrepreneurs and business leaders to discuss best business practices related to B Corp implementation.

“B Corporations embody so many Grand Rapids Community Foundation values. By adopting best practices around social equity and the environment within their business structures, they are leading significant change in our community.” said Laurie Craft, GRCF program director “In addition to the social impact of B Corporations, we also look forward to the possibilities that await our community as B Corporations collaborate with the nonprofit sector. There is great potential for expanding local social enterprise.”

Local First recently launched a shortened assessment tool in conjunction with B Lab, the nonprofit behind B Corporation, which allows businesses to assess their practices and compare themselves to other businesses across the nation. This free tool is a modified version of the assessment companies can take to become certified B Corps.

“We at Local First have always believed that business has the power to positively transform community. This generous grant will allow us to expand our efforts to build connections between businesses to share best practices, and encourage businesses to do good in our community,” said Elissa Hillary, executive director.

Getting down-town

Rumblings are emanating from downtown. 

The Waters Building conversion is sending businesses out into the streets to search for new quarters, and Olds Manor (once the Rowe Hotel) at the northwest corner of Michigan and Monroe will start showing evidence of repurposing very soon with RDV Corp. at the helm. 

We’ve also heard Craig Clark is turning in his bowling shoes and Jenny Griffin will become the “new guy” at Clark Communications. Aren’t you a little young for retirement, Craig?

Let’s scream

The people have spoken, and the winner of the Hudsonville Ice Cream Pure Michigan Limited Edition Flavor Contest is: Winter Campfire.

More than 7,400 people cast their votes, with Winter Campfire taking the top prize by nearly 200 votes. The flavor features Hudsonville Original Vanilla ice cream with a marshmallow swirl, graham cracker pieces and milk chocolate flakes reminiscent of a s’more. 

The flavor will be available this winter at grocery stores in Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and Illinois.

“The idea of Winter Campfire goes perfectly with the natural beauty and recreation opportunities Michigan offers during the winter months,” said Leslie Hornung, senior vice president of marketing and public relations at Michigan Economic Development Corp.

Voting began July 11 and ran through July 20 — National Ice Cream Day. Voters were registered to win one of 10 prizes, including throwing out the first pitch at a Detroit Tigers’ game and tickets for a Pictured Rocks boat cruise.

The other two flavors in the running were Lake Superior Thaw and Cabin Fever. Previous winning flavors include Double Berry Pie in 2013 and Caramel Apple in 2012.

“This contest gets bigger every year, and it just shows the excitement and continuous momentum the Pure Michigan campaign has created throughout the state,” said Caryn Beatty of Holland-based Hudsonville Ice Cream. “We are excited to create another Pure Michigan flavor that tells a story about our region.”

Started in 1895 as a farmers’ cooperative, the Holland-based Hudsonville Creamery & Ice Cream is the largest manufacturer of branded ice cream in Michigan. In addition to its “all season” flavors, which are available year round, “seasonal” flavors are offered on a limited basis throughout the year.

Fitting Tribute

Can you keep up with Kristen Aidif? The race director for the Fifth Third River Bank Run sets a torrid pace in the community — just one of the reasons she was among the seven winners of a YWCA Tribute Award last year.

Nominations for this year’s awards for women of outstanding achievement are due Sept. 5 (visit ywcawcmi.org); the winners will be honored during an event at DeVos Place Nov. 5.

Last year’s crew also included Ora McConner Jones, a former Chicago Public Schools superintendent and longtime community volunteer who was instrumental in bringing the Rosa Parks sculpture downtown; Sharon Loughridge, executive director of D.A. Blodgett/St. John’s Home; Leslee Lewis, managing partner of Dickinson Wright’s Grand Rapids office; Rochelle Manor, neuropsychologist and co-owner of Behavioral Resources and Institute for Neuropsychological Services; Jenn Schaub, a neighborhood revitalization associate with Dwelling Place; and India Dunning, a student at Forest Hills Northern High School.

Beer bus

Never accuse Peter Varga, CEO of public transporter The Rapid, of not keeping up with the times.

When the transit authority rolls out its new bus rapid transit system next month, the Silver Line will make a few ceremonial stops on its inaugural runs.

One will be a “beer stop” for Beer City USA. In fact, word is that Mike Stevens and Dave Engbers over at Founders Brewing Co. will create a Silver Line beer for this and all other occasions. 

Hope it’s a light beer because the Silver Line is all about speed!

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