Lawmakers consider allowing benefit corporations to form in Missouri
Brewer Science has long had a focus on community improvement alongside its high-tech business mission.
Now the Rolla-based company with 350 Missouri employees would like to merge those two passions by changing its business structure to become a benefit corporation. Such a change would require a statute revision in Missouri.
Today 33 states allow businesses to structure themselves as benefit corporations. The arrangement allows companies to place themselves somewhere between being a strictly for-profit business and a non-profit, community minded organization. Proponents of benefit corporations say the structure gives company leaders more flexibility when considering how to balance profit interests with the company’s social concerns.
The arrangement also provides transparency to investors who need to know whether a business is focused on seeking profits or has a broader mission that includes pursuing greater societal good.
One reason Brewer Science is asking for a statute change this year is to help attract young workers who are more likely to seek out an employer with a community-minded mission.
“What this does is it gives flexibility to companies such as Brewer Science,” said Alan Gerson, chief legal officer for Brewer Science. “It would set Brewer Science apart as a company that is community minded and help us to attract employees and millennials.”
Gerson was in Jefferson City on March 28 testifying in support of a bill to allow benefit corporations to form in Missouri. House Bill 2669 is sponsored by Rep. Kevin Austin, a Republican from Springfield.
Cyndra Lorey, executive director of the Rolla Regional Economic Commission, said that allowing benefit corporations would help her community attract workforce talent. She said her region is currently fortunate to have a 3.5 percent unemployment rate, but conversely that low rate means it’s increasingly difficult for companies to find the workers they need — especially high-tech companies like Brewer Science.
“When you are a rural community it makes it even more difficult to attract those kinds of jobs,” Lorey said.
The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry testified in support of the bill.
“We view this as a good way for companies to have another option as they look for ways to grow and attract the workforce they need,” said Matt Panik, vice president of governmental affairs at the Missouri Chamber. “This bill also protects shareholders by having them adopt the change to becoming a benefit corporation if they choose to do that.”
House Bill 2669 now awaits a vote in the House Special Committee on Innovation and Technology.
For more information, contact Panik at firstname.lastname@example.org or 573.634.3511.