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|Articles - May 2014|
|Monday, April 28, 2014|
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BY LINDA BAKER | PHOTOS BY CARL KIILSGAARD*
*CHANG PHOTOS COURTESY MERCY CORPS
I. In the beginning, there were clear boundaries between the world of business and the world of nonprofits. The former revolved around financial targets like sales growth and investor returns — the latter aimed for collaboration and the social good. Then the world flattened; the economy collapsed, Internet technologies democratized entrepreneurship, and mounting anxiety about environmental degradation prompted businesses of all stripes to green their marketing, products and services.
These shifts — some might call them seismic — set the stage for the emergence of what insiders are calling “the fourth sector” of the economy: hybrid organizations that are neither government agency, for-profit or nonprofit but contain elements of all three. The idea, and it’s still very much an idea, didn’t spring up overnight but instead grew out of several decades of change in which for-profits tried to become more socially conscious and nonprofits more market oriented, the latter often adding revenue-generating programs to supplement declining government funding.
So far the fourth sector is more theory than practice, more embryonic than fully formed, but the concept itself is yet another example of 21st-century innovation. At least on the for-profit side, it’s less about tacking a social mission onto business than an attempt to rethink the deep structure of business itself. Much as the sharing economy is less about a new product or service than a rethinking of the ownership economy, the fourth sector aims to create an entirely new model for simultaneously making money and effecting positive social change.
Skeptics might claim the idea is too good to be true, and that a hybrid model will only dilute profits while opening up new opportunities for green washing and other forms of exploitation — of consumers, the disadvantaged and the tax code. Potential drawbacks notwithstanding, one thing is clear: In Oregon a new generation of leaders is hot on the trail, launching an array of fourth-sector initiatives and projects. Impact funds, benefit corporations and social enterprise are among the jargon phrases that capture the various manifestations of their work.
Oregon Business caught up with a few of the key players in this “blended capital” space. Their goals are ambitious: to enlarge the boundaries of capitalism itself, marrying the financial returns generated by the market with the selflessness and community orientation typically linked to the nonprofit enterprise.
Tuesday, June 09, 2015
The technology at the center of Oregon’s road usage fee reform.
Wednesday, June 03, 2015
As part of our green workplaces story, Oregon Business checked out a community service project undertaken by Portland Youth Builders, a nonprofit alternative high school. In partnership with Whole Foods, PYB built garden boxes for a Home Forward housing site. Home Forward is a government agency that provides housing for low income residents and people with disabilities.
Tuesday, June 23, 2015
Oregon’s new marijuana law is expected to lead to a bevy of new business opportunities for the state. And not just for growers. Law firms, HR consultants, energy efficiency companies and many others are expected to benefit from the decriminalization of pot, according to panelists at an Oregon Business breakfast meeting on Tuesday.
Wednesday, July 01, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR
There are more than 10 million former military members working in the United States.
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER | EDITOR
More than 250 people turned out today for Oregon Business magazine’s seventh annual celebration of the 100 Best Green Companies to Work For in Oregon.
Thursday, June 18, 2015
While most categories of commercial real estate have performed well, one of the most robust has been apartment buildings.
Friday, May 22, 2015
BY AMY MILSHTEIN
Astrid Scholz scales up sustainability.
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Tonkon Torp helps seed sustainability at Gunderson.
Oregon-based Environments helps companies create inspired workspaces. “Simply put, we help companies future-proof their workspaces,” says Chris Corrado, president. Since 1988,Environments has witnessed firsthand the changing landscape of business. Native Portlander and Environments founder Corrado says, “We help our clients navigate the complex realities of the workplace today and plan for their future in a very mindful, strategic way. We think of ourselves as their partners in the process.”
One hundred years ago, the Willamette River might easily have been mistaken for a sewer. Unchecked industrial activity and decades of pollution made it unrecognizable compared to the clean river that now flows north for 187 miles from Eugene through the center of Portland.
3 Degrees Event Celebrates 5th Year Bringing Nonprofit and Business Professionals Together to Benefit Portland.
Bend energy leader brings passion for efficiency and renewable energy to the nonprofit.
Event in Forest Grove marks recognition of Global Food Safety Initiative Certification.