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Change Matters Becomes Maryland's First Benefit LLC

Change Matters, a social enterprise consulting firm, has become Maryland's first Benefit LLC. The Takoma Park-based company advises Maryland non-profit and social purpose businesses.

"This designation honors and recognizes the way we want to do business. In a balanced way. And really in a way that puts serious emphasis on community improvement and environmental stewardship. I do think that this designation is a differentiation factor," says Change Matters, Benefit LLC founder and principal Amy Kincaid.

The Benefit LLC structure is the first of its kind in the US. Maryland's Benefit Corporation law took effect last October, making Maryland the first state to recognize a specific corporate designation for companies that choose to balance financial concerns with social and environmental missions. The statute creating the designation was signed by Governor Martin O'Malley in May, 2011.

June 1, 2011 was the first day that companies could file for organization as a Benefit LLC. In addition to Change Matters, other Maryland firms are pursuing the Benefit LLC designation. Substance 151, a Baltimore-based communications firm, was the second company to file. Clean Currents, a wind and solar energy provider, has also filed for the designation.

"There are no direct, clear financial incentives to doing this. Even though I do think there is potential value to the state to encouraging this kind of business, there are no tax incentives, there are no special procurement points, marketing business development assistance, or such," continues Amy Kincaid. "I believe this kind of economic activity can generate perhaps modestly, but deeply and sustainably, local jobs and revenue and community assets, innovation toward solving social problems."

Change Matters founder Amy Kincaid will be moderating the panel discussion "Social Enterprise: When Your Business Is Changing The World" at July's ThinkBig Baltimore conference.

Writer: Amy McNeal
Source: Amy Kincaid, Change Matters, Benefit LLC

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