Business Magazine

Clinton and Cuomo Make History

Posted on the 20 September 2011 by Blab

By Jay Coen Gilbert, Co-Founder,  B Lab

Or, at least they could. Bill Clinton has already done his part today, and now Gov. Andrew Cuomo has the opportunity to return the favor.

Cuomo came to New York City today to talk to President Clinton and other Clinton Global Initiative members about capital access. Cuomo, like governors across the country, is looking for capital that can help create high quality jobs.

Today, Clinton helped Cuomo with his (read: our) problem.

Today at CGI, 15 leading investors including J.P. Morgan and Prudential, declared their investment preference for funds and companies that are rated for their social and environmental impact with the same rigor usually applied to rating their financial risk and returns. This commitment coincided with the launch of GIIRS, the world’s first ratings and analytics platform for impact investments — investments that seek to generate financial returns while they simultaneously solve some of society’s greatest challenges, from poverty alleviation to environmental restoration. These investments will create the high quality jobs Governor Cuomo, his peers, and the rest of Americans crave as we languish in the long tail of the Great Recession.

To say thank you, Governor Cuomo can return the favor.

In a recent video interview President Clinton says that one of the biggest reasons for the decay of the American dream lies in the fact that over the past 20 years, corporations have increasingly disregarded everything but profit maximization. Key statements appear about 1 minute into the video.

Governor Cuomo has the chance to solve Bill’s (read: our) problem when he meets with President Clinton today.

Sitting on Cuomo’s desk is a bill (S 79-a Benefit Corporation) that would create a new kind of corporation legally required to consider the impact of its decisions not only on profits, but also on performance — as in its performance in creating value not only for its shareholders, but also for its workers, our communities, and the environment.

The bill passed both houses of the New York state legislature unanimously. That’s 201-0 for those keeping score at home.

Similar legislation has already been signed into law with bi-partisan support in Maryland, Vermont, New Jersey, and Hawaii, is on Governor Brown’s desk in California, and is moving forward in North Carolina, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

The least Governor Cuomo can do while in Bill’s house it to return the favor.

Stay tuned and perhaps tomorrow Cuomo will announce that he intends to sign New York benefit corporation legislation.

Doing so will create the legal infrastructure for impact investing and make it possible to unleash billions in sidelined capital to create high quality jobs that improve the quality of life in communities across the U.S. and around the world.

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