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Networking On Purpose: How B Corps Are Creating Connections And Building Their Community In The Southeast U.S.

By Business
Christopher Marquis

While the internet and other technical tools put the global economy in reach for businesses of all sizes, community connections remain vital for many business leaders, who have long used them to network with others in their industry, expand their professional opportunities, and share best practices or other lessons.

The local community level is where many companies can make the biggest impact, as shown by Certified B Corporations that include community as one of their stakeholders and prioritize local ties and the strength they can provide, especially in times of challenge like they’ve seen in 2020.

While B Corps are now a global network of more than 3,500 companies, they are still a relatively new concept in some regions of the United States and the world where people are less familiar with businesses operating as a force for good. To raise local awareness and build regional business networks, B Corp leaders across the U.S. and Canada are forming B Local organizations that tap into community strengths and establish a foundation for future growth.

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As part of my research on purpose-driven business I recently talked with B Corp leaders in the Southeastern U.S., a region where the stakeholder-minded certification remains fairly novel, about their efforts to raise awareness of B Corps and encourage others to learn how business can be a force for good.

Emily Landry who researches B Corps at the University of Tennessee described to me the unique characteristics of the southeast: “I think the entrepreneurial spirit in the region is quite strong. But when I first began researching B Corps it was hard to find anyone in the business community who was familiar with the concept. Lots of entrepreneurs I have talked to want to go in this direction, but they don’t know where to go for help. This is a real opportunity local entrepreneurs and the nascent B Corp community.”

Below are excerpts from interviews with Jared Meyers, Chairman of Legacy Vacation Resorts and Salt Palm Development in Florida and one of the founders of Florida for Good, and Kevin Christopher, Founder and Principal of Rockridge Venture Law in Tennessee and a founder of B Tennessee. Both are champions of the B Corp movement as well as believers in this purpose-driven business community. Later this month I’ll join them and other B Corp leaders for BLD Southeast 2020, an online conference for people from Maryland to Texas, when we’ll discuss further some of the questions they answer here.

How do you spread the word about the B Corp community with other businesses, including your industry, personal, and community connections? 

Jared Meyers: My businesses promote B Corps through their marketing, supply chain management, hiring processes, and guest education, which reaches 300,000 people. To go a step further, I co-founded the For Good Movement to spread the word and grow the B Corp movement within Florida and the global travel and tourism industry through regular communications by email, social media and otherwise. We’ve established relationships with government, economic development, academia, values-aligned business networks, community foundations, and civil society to promote the B Corp way through events and collaboration.

Kevin Christopher: I give a number of corporate social responsibility (CSR) presentations to chambers, universities, and bar associations. For instance, in a recent presentation at Yale, I distinguished between the often confused B Corp business certification and benefit corporation, a legal structure for mission-driven businesses. To further uptake of the B Corp model, I partner locally with sustainability and social impact organizations like B Academics, B Local Georgia, Think Tennessee, Leadership Tennessee, green|spacesUrban Green Lab, and Vanderbilt’s Turner Family Center for Social Ventures.

As you work to build awareness of B Corps in your communities and state, what activities or programs have been most successful? 

Meyers: Floridians had virtually no knowledge of B Corps when we started our efforts three years ago. There were 16 B Corps, political leaders didn’t know to support them, attorneys and accountants didn’t suggest them, economic development didn’t consider them, and there was no strong statewide push for the movement.

The University of Florida’s Business for Good Lab has been successful in educating students about B Corps and helping businesses improve their impact and become B Corps. We’ve been able to engage additional colleges and universities since to launch their own programs or to provide their students the ability to participate in the Business for Good Lab. I have also become a Founding Director for Climate First Bank (In Organization), which will immediately seek B Corp status, to provide Florida with a full-service community bank on a mission to positively impact the triple bottom line of people, planet and prosperity.

We still have a long way to go, but B Corps are now part of conversations at important levels.

Christopher: Last year I launched an initiative called B Tennessee. Because we have only a handful of B Corps in Tennessee that are fairly dispersed geographically, we aren’t well positioned to establish a B Local (a network of local B Corps like in Boston or Portland, often organized as a nonprofit association). B Tennessee is our placeholder, serving as a community or forum for CSR generally and not just B Corps. Our August 2020 event featured panelists from chemical, industrial, faith, and retail communities that are leading engagement within those communities around B Corp principles, if not necessarily through B Corps. Perhaps the most impressive panelist was Ryan Bailey of The Bailey Company, a zero waste forklift retailer that prioritizes sustainability. We are trying to exhibit broadly how the people, planet and profit ethos might be best achieved through the B Corp framework, but we also want to recognize advancements in CSR by fellow Tennesseans where B Corp might not be a present option.

What resonates most, given you are in a conservative-leaning state, when you talk with other business leaders or the public? 

Meyers: Changing culture and norms takes a long time despite the immediacy of the problems we face. While there is now a better recognition of societal problems due to COVID-19, the virus and resultant economic crisis are also used as reasons that businesses cannot engage in better capitalism now. Words are very important. Business leaders and the general public struggle with understanding that stakeholder orientation does not make capitalism become socialism, and that justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion does not mean that white people are now being treated unfairly. People want things to be as simple as two choices. The reality is that the world is more nuanced.

There is a concern that businesses cannot succeed without shareholder primacy, but B Corps continue to prove that wrong. There is a feeling that societal change is too expensive, but that is only when the business leaders are short-sighted and do not account for the cost of the climate crisis or civic unrest which both will continue until societal and economic systems are changed.

Christopher: Vincent Stanley of Patagonia participated on our last B Tennessee panel. When I first connected with him, he recommended engaging the faith community. I believe the faith community, and I’m one of them, has sort of dropped the ball on this in the past for many reasons, including doctrinal and political, but many young faith leaders want to see more civic, socioeconomic, and CSR participation by members of their respective communities. I’m a tech lawyer transplant from Berkeley, so some audiences I won’t be able to reach. That’s why it’s so meaningful to have people like Jonathan Ingraham from Chattanooga Faith + Works + Culture supporting our events. When speaking to other business leaders, I highlight the workforce benefits to being a B Corp. Studies show that highly creative and productive employees, particularly millennials, increasingly want to work for companies that provide them leadership opportunities and champion environmental and social impact causes. When speaking to investors, I highlight some of the work by Yale’s Center for Business and the Environment and NC State’s Business Sustainability Collaborativeshowing how B Corps outperform their startup peers. As a county and state commissioner, I use political opportunities to educate legislative and executive leaders on social enterprise and how governmental actions, like stronger benefit corporation statutes and increased awareness around them can supplement B Corp growth.

What types of work have you done on policy or awareness among public/elected officials to encourage more businesses to adopt business corporation governance? 

Meyers: As one of the chairpersons for the East Central Florida’s Regional Planning Council’s Resiliency committee, I’m working with others to recommend regional and hopefully statewide principles around which Florida will unite to rebuild post COVID-19. With others, we have started the process of getting Florida to adopt benefit corporation law changes similar to Delaware’s. This may take some time to come to fruition based on early discussions.

Christopher: I recently provided the Georgia Social Impact Collaborative educational material around their recently passed benefit corporation statute. Earlier this year I led a B Academics panel focused on how trustmarks like B Corp, Fair Trade, and others can survive e-commerce bottlenecks like Amazon and Google Shopping that prioritize other metrics like cheap and fast supply chains at the expense of corporate citizenship. We have a great guide surveying southeastern benefit corporation statutes. The B Tennessee initiative is driven by my firm’s impact and innovation fellow Bruce Allen, kind of a rare role for a law firm. We’re currently finalizing a research study showing less than 1% statutory compliance in transparency requirements by Tennessee benefit corporations. We’ll use this research to help influence better state enablement and promotion of benefit corporations. These are essentially pro bono activities that my firm takes on to advocate for the B Corp and benefit corporation models. We are also sponsoring and helping plan the 2020 BLD Back Better Southeastern B Corp conference alongside Jared Myers and our friends from Florida from Good.

In states like yours with fewer B Corps, what is most helpful to raise awareness of this business community and its values? What are some of the obstacles?

Meyers: We need national campaigns and support at every level of society for business to be inclusive, equitable, and regenerative. I am constantly solicited by suppliers and vendors, and I’ve decided that an easy way to reply to them is to tell them that we prioritize B Corps and to send them the link to the B Impact Assessment (BIA), which is an online tool that all businesses can use. If they take the BIA, I am open to talk further.

The largest obstacle is that our economic systems are designed to produce the outcomes that we reliably receive today. Until the system is changed, it will always be an unfair fight.

Christopher: One of my interns developed a simple infographic on benefit corporations and B Corps that I was surprised to learn was circulating in the Missouri Legislature in support of their attempted benefit corp legislation. I think generally simple, easy-to-digest concepts are important. Also, when you start speaking about ROI and some of the data around B Corps as solid investments compared to peer businesses, that sells.

How important is public/customer awareness of B Corp values? What are some of the best ways you’ve found to explain B Corp to the public? 

Meyers: Extremely important; $400 billion is spent on philanthropy each year while $130 trillion is spent on everyday items. We need the everyday spending to go to companies like B Corps if we really want to solve our problems. If customers and the public don’t know they have a better option for where to work, shop, and support, they will never pursue it. The average person simply doesn’t have the time to engage in long research on most of their decisions, so we have to make it easy on them.

Christopher: The B Corp stamp is essentially a trustmark, which has become more important in times when consumer habits are radically shifting toward e-commerce without touchpoints and familiar validating mechanisms. In southern circles I shy away from using aggrandizing words like “movement” to describe B Corp because I think the model speaks for itself. B Corp certification means that a company has undergone a thorough vetting of its employment policies, supply chains, charitable giving, and other triple-bottom-line metrics. It would and should be very difficult to greenwash B Corp, so for companies looking to connect with conscientious consumers, it is in my opinion the best stamp for doing so.

Florida for Good highlights stakeholder message at first conference

By Business, Community
Photo credit: Institute B

Companies across the southeast United States that balance purpose and profits will come together for their first conference to learn how to improve their businesses.

Florida for Good, co-founded by Jared Meyers, a St. Petersburg real estate developer, will co-host the first-ever BLD [B Corp Leadership Development] Back Better Southeast Conference, a virtual gathering on Nov. 12.

“These BLD conferences have been held in other states, but none have been held in the Southeast. This year we decided we needed to do this,” said Jennifer Moreau, executive director of Florida for Good.

Jennifer Moreau

There are relatively few B Corp companies in the southeast U.S., but conference organizers hope to change that mentality through education.

“Either they don’t know they can do it that way or they are so ingrained in the profit-only and shareholder-only mentality. That’s something we want to change,” Moreau said. “We want to  talk to people about a stakeholder mentality, to consider employees, to consider the environment and think about something other profits. A company has to be profitable, but it won’t stay in business if it’s not considering all of its stakeholders.”

There are nearly 3,400 companies around the world that are certified B Corporation and are legally required to consider the impact of their decisions on their workers, customers, suppliers, community, and the environment. There are 20 certified B Corp companies in Florida, including Meyers’ Salt Palm Development and Legacy Vacation Resorts, as well as Diamond View, a video production company, and Harness, a subscription philanthropy initiative, both in Tampa.

Jared Meyers, owner and chairman, Salt Palm Development

The BLD Back Better Southeast Conference is not just for B Corp companies, Moreau said.

“We want to include the social enterprises, the Conscious Capitalism chapters, the 1 Percent for the Planet members, anyone who owns a sustainable company and who wants to network with others that they didn’t know existed in the region, and also to help companies that have just heard about this and want more information. We want to give them a taste of what it’s like running a B Corp company, what’s important and should be considered in business operations, to light their fire and let them know here are the next steps,” Moreau said.

The day-long event will feature networking and learning opportunities, including discussions with local and national B Corp leaders. Tim Moore, CEO of Diamond View, is a panelist for B Corp 101, which will focus on how the B impact assessment tool can improve business. Other sessions will focus on branding, climate change, leadership and impact investing. Meyers will host a virtual happy hour event at the end of the conference.

More details and registration are here.

Orlando Sentinel: Jared Meyers: Minimum-wage amendment good for business and Floridians

By Business, Community

Op-Ed By Jared Meyers
Orlando Sentinel, Oct 17, 2020

People are at the center of the hospitality business. How we treat people matters every day — from our employees to our community to our guests.

That’s why I support Amendment 2, the ballot measure to gradually raise Florida’s minimum wage. No one in the hospitality industry or any other industry should be working full-time and struggling just to keep a roof overhead and food on the table. There’s nothing hospitable about that. …

My companies and the organization I co-founded, Florida for Good, have joined with many others in the Florida Business for a Fair Minimum Wage coalition. There is strong business support for raising the minimum wage across the state and across industries — from hospitality to manufacturing; from big companies to the small businesses that are such a vibrant part of our local communities.

Amendment 2 will put Florida’s minimum wage on the path to a living wage, which is fundamentally good business. When wages go up, there is not only more consumer spending, businesses experience lower turnover (cutting down the costs of hiring and training employees), and businesses see increased productivity and better customer service.

Amendment 2 will help us build a more resilient post-pandemic economy that is more equitable, inclusive and sustainable.

We have a path laid out for shared recovery and shared prosperity. We just need to walk it together.

Jared Meyers is owner of Legacy Vacation Resorts (which includes locations in Orlando and Kissimmee) and Salt Palm Development in St. Petersburg. He is also co-founder of Florida for Good.

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BUSINESS Ken LaRoe, founder of First Green Bank, wants to focus on climate change with new venture

By Business, Community

When Orlando-based First Green Bank merged with Seacoast Bank in 2018, customer Ben Johansen was most upset about the loss of his branch’s building in Winter Park, which sported solar panels and recycled building materials.

“Why get rid of a building that had almost no carbon footprint?” said the owner of Embellish FX in Orlando.

Johansen’s disappointment reflects a common theme among former customers and employees of the environmentally focused First Green, including the bank’s founder, Ken LaRoe.

“When [the merger] was done, I thought, ‘What have I done? I’ve sold this thing that meant so much to so many people,’” he said.

So LaRoe, 63, is returning to values-based banking with his latest venture, Climate First Bank (In Organization), a Florida-based community bank looking to open its first branch in St. Petersburg in May.

“Not to sound egotistical, but there’s nobody better situated to do it,” he said.

First Green was LaRoe’s second bank, after he founded Florida Choice Bank in 1998 and sold it to Alabama National in 2006. “I wanted to do something with my life … something that would give back rather than just make people a bunch of money,” LaRoe said. “I’m a rabid environmentalist, but I’m a rabid capitalist also.”

Inspired by the autobiography of Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard, LaRoe created First Green with a mission to help people make more environmentally conscious decisions. The bank became known for its eco-friendly branches as well as loans to help customers add solar panels to their homes and offices.

Lynne Lawrie, First Green’s vice president of human resources, recalled running the Mission Specialist program at the bank, which gave bonuses to employees who underwent voluntary education on the values of the bank.

A lifelong resident of Eustis, LaRoe went on join the Global Alliance for Banking on Values in 2012. He also created the First Green Foundation, a nonprofit organization that promotes renewable energy and conservation.

So what happened? Why did First Green, which had nearly $800 million in assets at its conclusion, merge with Seacoast?

It was investor pressure, LaRoe said. “The cycle of community banks in Florida is you start it, you build it, you sell it,” he said. Seacoast bought First Green for $115 million.

LaRoe would not disclose how much he pocketed personally on the sale, saying that he would have to review his records. “I can assure you that it wasn’t enough for 10 years of my life!” he wrote in a text message.

With Climate First, LaRoe is looking to break that cycle and keep the mission of his bank alive. To that end, he has filed for his new venture to be the first bank to qualify as a Florida benefit corporation, a legal status that helps prevent shareholders from forcing a company to make decisions against the company’s values. “I believe in shareholder primacy, but I believe in stakeholder primacy as well,” LaRoe said. “They’re at least equal.”

LaRoe is still waiting on certification from Florida to start seeking investors in Climate First, though he said he already has $7.25 million in written commitments. His main goal is to “provide a place for the community to vote with their dollars and … put money toward what they care about,” he said.

LaRoe also said Climate First will be more aggressive in its attempts to address climate change. This means expanding the solar loans program to allow customers to sign up online, collaborating with other banks to fund scale solar projects, and funding building retrofits and regenerative agriculture.

Climate First will also be “doubling down” on its commitment to take care of its workers, according to LaRoe. First Green had a living wage initiative that started every employee with a salary of at least $30,000 a year. It also offered 401(k) and insurance benefits to employees from day one.

Most of the former First Green employees were transitioned to work at Seacoast. First Green reached out to customers and other businesses to help place the two dozen employees who didn’t get jobs in the merger. “Their welfare really mattered to [LaRoe],” Lawrie said.

Lawrie, who is consulting on recruitment efforts for the new bank, said she is “looking forward to picking out the new 401K options.”

Johansen has been banking with Seacoast since the merger and he’s not sure he’s going to switch any time soon. But he admits a social mission was part of what drew him to First Green.

“If you value our planet, that was the right choice for us,” he said. “We’re putting our money behind what we believe in.”

Want to reach out? Email

New Florida Bank to Support Sustainable Businesses & Solar Panels

By Business
  •  Climate First Bank plans expansion in Florida and beyond
  •  Bank is run by Ken LaRoe, who founded First Green Bancorp


A new community bank in central Florida will lend to businesses committed to sustainability and consumers trying to make their homes more eco-friendly, in an effort to tap into millennials’ concern about climate change.

Climate First Bank, which plans to open its doors in St. Petersburg next year, will seek to expand to other parts of Florida and to cities such as Austin, Texas, founder Ken LaRoe said. The bank will offer interest-rate discounts for sustainable projects such as LEED-certified building construction and dedicated loan options for home solar panels or energy-saving retrofits.

There’s a void for such financing as large banks pay lip service to environmental concerns without changing their practices, LaRoe said. He called announcements by bigger rivals “lots of greenwashing.”

“Millennials vote with their pocketbooks, and they care about climate change,” LaRoe said in an interview.

U.S. banks have trailed European rivals in committing to environmental goals. When Europe’s largest banks signed onto a framework of climate targets for lending portfolios, they weren’t joined by major U.S. lenders. Yet U.S. banks have also signaled they’ll move to set similar targets as they come under pressure to cease financing the fossil-fuel industry. JPMorgan Chase & Co. said this week it plans to set such goals next year, to be achieved by 2030.

LaRoe founded a bank with a similar mission in 2009, First Green Bancorp. He sold it in 2018 because of investor pressure after not having paid dividends for years, he said. This time, he said he intends to take Climate First public after five years and make it pay regular dividends.

Never Skip Veggies Again – Innovative Ice Cream Brand Peekaboo Introduces Its Newest Assortment

By Business

New specialty flavors Cookie Dough and Unicorn, plus vegan flavors Mango and Strawberry, all with hidden veggies

Adding vegan options was very important to us. By popular demand, our two new dairy-free vegan flavors – Peekaboo Strawberry Sorbet with Hidden Tomato and Mango Sorbet with Hidden Squash – were both inspired by local Florida growers.

Building the future of better-for-you ice cream, Peekaboo Organics is made with hidden veggies you can’t see or taste, and is proud to debut its newest flavors, Cookie Dough and Unicorn Birthday Cake, both made with hidden zucchini, along with its first vegan flavors, Mango sorbet with hidden squash and Strawberry sorbet with hidden tomato. Peekaboo is certified organic and includes at least one serving of hidden vegetables in every container.

Founded by Jessica Weiss Levison, mother of three and ice cream pioneer, Peekaboo is committed to making the delicious, indulgent ice cream you crave with the added benefits of vitamins and minerals.

The company is on a mission to help families create a healthier relationship with food by taking the bribery out of dinnertime, as well as provide a more palatable solution to the eternal parenting challenge: feeling good about what you feed your kids. Founded in Miami, FL, Peekaboo is a certified B-Corp, supporting women in the workplace and committed to sustainability and giving back through partners like Team No Kid Hungry.

With the introduction of their newest flavors, including vegan options, Peekaboo expands its range as well as its retailers, including a limited-time release at Target stores in Florida and California. It also marks the launch of a re-brand including new packaging, an updated logo and a new website, The new packaging puts veggies front and center.

“It’s so exciting to see customer favorites from our scoop shop, Serendipity, come to life in Peekaboo renditions. After our original five flavors, the next most requested flavors were cookie dough and birthday cake. Inspired by my little girls, we took birthday cake one step further and gave it a magical spin by adding a purple frosting swirl and naming it ‘Unicorn.’ I hope your kids enjoy these new flavors as much as mine do,” says Peekaboo Founder Jessica Weiss Levison.

“Adding vegan options was very important to us as well. By popular demand, our two new dairy-free vegan flavors – Peekaboo Strawberry Sorbet with Hidden Tomato and Mango Sorbet with Hidden Squash – were both inspired by local Florida growers.”


Cookie Dough with hidden zucchini: The cookie monster himself would gasp in disbelief after finding out that we snuck zucchini into this recipe. That’s because it’s also made with hearty chunks of homemade chocolate chip cookie dough yum blended into delicious vanilla ice cream. A good source of calcium, Vitamin A, Riboflavin and Phosphorus.

Unicorn Birthday Cake with hidden zucchini: What could be more magical than a birthday cake batter flavor and festive swirl of purple frosting? Well if there’s ever an ice cream deserving of the name unicorn, it’s this one that sneaks in mineral-rich zucchini. Indulge better with this ice cream, a good source of Calcium, Vitamin A, Riboflavin and Phosphorus.

Strawberry Sorbet with hidden tomato: Ok, technically tomatoes are fruit and not veggies. But to your kids, it’s just more produce on their plate. Instead, we mixed this super source of antioxidants and fiber into our velvety strawberry sorbet, dairy-free and an excellent source of Vitamin C.

Mango Sorbet with hidden squash: We pulled off a real magic trick with this mango sorbet, mixing in a cup full of pumpkin squash. Technically a fruit, it’s high in fiber and beta carotene, adding a health kick to our creamy (and non-dairy) recipe. This dairy free sorbet is an excellent source of Vitamin C and a good source of Vitamin A.

For more information on Peekaboo, contact or visit

Community Voices: The importance of corporate civic responsibility

By Business, Community

Welcome to the Catalyst’s Community Voices platform. We’ve curated community leaders and thinkers from all parts of our great city to speak on issues that affect us all. Visit our Community Voices page for more details.

Freedom to cast a ballot and vote in government elections is the cornerstone of our democratic society. This duty is a hard-won right and a privilege that too often goes unclaimed in America. With the current national conversation about social justice and racial equity, along with concerns of voter safety due to the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses must support democracy and voting accessibility for their workforce. A healthy business and country depend on equity and civic engagement.

Many businesses are posting statements explaining their care and concern for employees, their support of Black, indigenous, and people of color communities, as well as compassion for those impacted by COVID-19. These companies can extend that care from words into actions by educating their staff, supporting mail in and early voting options and providing paid time off to vote. Employees should not have to choose between a paycheck and their voice, as expressed through their ballot. Businesses often focus on corporate social responsibility while neglecting corporate civic responsibility, which is necessary to feel invested in the democratic process.

At Legacy Vacation Resorts (LVR), Salt Palm Development (SPD), and Florida for Good (FFG), it is critical that our employees can vote in a safe and secure manner. Based on their unique personal circumstances, they can choose between mail in voting and in-person voting (early or regular). For those with health concerns during a pandemic, child care or other obstacles, mail in voting is a good option.  This voting method has been legal in Florida for decades and it is the preferred personal voting method of the current President of the United States. However, for those that prefer in-person voting, as I do, they are given paid time off to vote through early voting or on Election Day. Early voting offers faster lines, smaller crowds and will help reduce wait times for others on Election Day.

We are participating in a few initiatives that help support elections and ensure employees have the time and resources they need to cast their ballot. Time To Vote is a nonpartisan coalition of US companies representing 2.7 million workers to address voting barriers and increase voter participation. This business-led initiative is unaffiliated with any one specific NGO or other independent party, non-prescriptive and completely free to join for any company interested. It shows a commitment through employee accommodations and dedicated time off to vote. We have also joined forces with Business for America (BFA), a 501c3/c4 which has mobilized more than 200 companies, business groups and executives across the country to ​sign a letter to Congress.​ State and local governments and agencies need sufficient funding to hold safe and accessible elections in the face of the coronavirus pandemic and potential social unrest.

Our participation in these efforts has translated into a few initiatives. First, we encouraged our employees to register to vote via a motivational contest. Next, we created an employee educational program that shows how voting can shape the world they wish to see, not just in the presidential elections, but local and state as well. Now, we are offering assistance with mail in ballots for employees who need it and providing paid time off for those who wish to vote in person.

Securing the means to safe voting and providing time to do so by employers is critical.  Our government cannot reflect the will of its people when business policies, practices and norms interfere. The call has never been greater for business leaders to show their capacity for humanity and proactively engage their employees in the voting process. If you are an employee, insist that your employer supports the Time to Vote initiative, vote early and in person if possible and use vote-by-mail as an alternative. If you are an employer, go to Business for America’s website, sign their letter to Congress, and show that you value your employees by supporting their participation at the ballot box.

Jared Meyers is chairman, Salt Palm Development, and the founder of Florida for Good.

LVR’s Dedicated Duo Pushes Company Toward 2025 Targets

By Business

Names: Alex Smith and Leigh Deforest
Titles: Alex: Director of Social Purpose and Analytics; Leigh: Social Purpose and Sustainability Manager
Company: Legacy Vacation Resorts, Orlando, Fla.
Years in Current Position: Alex: Nine months; Leigh: Four months
Primary Responsibilities: Alex: “Supporting team fundamentals, acting as a supporting guide, helping to work through objectives, and reporting to the leadership team.” “Leigh: “Helping to move our company toward our 2025 targets.”
Organization’s most significant accomplishment in global corporate responsibility
: Alex: “Becoming a B Corp. was a big step. It took a lot to certify and get tested.”
Organization’s most significant challenge moving forward in global corporate responsibility: Alex: “Team member and guest education. We need to make sure our team members understand why we do what we do.”

Leigh Deforest

ORLANDO—The duo has not been with Legacy Vacation Resorts (LVR) that long—Alex Smith for nine months and Leigh Deforest for four months—but the pair have successfully built upon the triple bottom line business approach set forth by Jared Meyers, Chairman of the company.

“We are driving to be a collaborative steward in the hospitality industry,” Alex says. “We are a B Corp. We really believe in the triple bottom line.”

It was early last year that LVR announced it had achieved Certified B Corporation Status, becoming the first multi-state hotel and vacation ownership company in the country to secure the prestigious designation. Administered by the nonprofit, B Lab, Certified B Corporations are businesses that voluntarily meet the highest standards of social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose through third-party review.

Alex Smith

2025 Targets Divided Into Three Areas

Certified B Corp. standards are reflected in the 2025 Positive Impact Targets currently in place for LVR. The targets are divided into three areas: Social Impact, Community, and Eco-Friendly. One example of a Social Impact goal: 25 percent increase in local and responsible B Corp. suppliers. One example of a Community goal: 30 percent of employees participate in volunteer Day of Hope opportunity. One example of an Eco-Friendly goal: create and execute a 100 percent renewable energy plan.

“We are leading with data,” Alex says. “We are tracking our sustainable development goals. We are improving leadership and representation of color. We are also focusing on civic education. On energy we are making strides.”

On the waste management front LVR is set on eliminating single-use plastics by next year—10,000 pounds annually. It uses dispensers in guestroom showers, bamboo and paper keycards, and guests are given reusable bottles upon check-in that they can fill at multiple water filtration stations on-site.

By 2023, LVR wants to implement carbon labeling for all vacations booked. “We are also looking at doing more native landscaping,” Alex says.

Leigh says the company’s Indian Shore, Fla. property is a blueprint of what the company is aiming to do from a sustainability perspective. Opened earlier this year, recycling bins are provided throughout the resort, water bottle refilling stations are at select areas to encourage minimizing the need for single use plastics, green cleaning products are used by housekeeping staff and complimentary electric vehicle chargers are available for guest use. In the bathrooms, small amenity bottles have been replaced by refillable wall-mounted units to eliminate unnecessary waste. For direct bookings, the company also secures carbon offsets for every guest stay. Signage through the property also educates guests on the B Corp standing and offers suggestions on different ways they too can reduce their impact on the environment during their stay as well as inspiring more mindful habits back at home.

LVR just kicked off social program month. There is a five-module program available in Spanish and English.

Guests can watch a video on their in-room TV that explains the company’s values.

In Support of Florida for Good

Jared Meyers co-founded the Florida for Good movement, which funds free resources and events to facilitate the spread of business for good and the Certified B Corporation program. Since its inception, Legacy Vacation Resorts has donated more than $50,000 to Florida for Good’s charitable endeavors, with Meyers also dedicating a significant amount of his personal time and income to its growth. Both Alex and Leigh support the efforts of Florida for Good.

LVR has two full-time employees—Alex and Leigh—and eight social purpose champions dedicated to sustainability efforts. “We have a culture of cross-property communication,” Alex says.

When asked what they most enjoy about their work, Alex said, “The challenge. It is an ever-evolving function.” Added Leigh, “I enjoy that I get to work across all departments.”

Alex says his interest in sustainability has blossomed in the past five years. Adds Leigh, “I have always been highly passionate about the environment. I first admired Patagonia.”

Glenn Hasek can be reached at

The B Corp movement is accelerating during the pandemic

By Business


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To Emmanuel Faber, CEO of food giant Danone, the coronavirus pandemic is a reason to accelerate social and environmental impact goals, not abandon them in the name of his company’s bottom line.

On the latest episode of Leadership Next, Fortune’s podcast about the changing role of business leadership, the CEO joins cohosts Alan Murray and Ellen McGirt to talk stakeholder capitalism in today’s tumultuous world.

Danone is on the path to become a certified B Corporation by 2025. That means the company will be held to strict standards of “verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.” Most B Corps are small businesses, but a growing number of larger businesses, with Danone being one of the largest, are interested in achieving the certification, according to Anthea Kelsick, co-CEO of B Lab U.S. and Canada.

Faber said that the company believes that committing to these goals will provide Danone a competitive advantage while achieving good in the world. And becoming a certified B Corp creates tangible, measurable targets that must be hit, which keeps businesses accountable for their public commitments.

At the 8:30 mark, McGirt cuts in with Kelsick to discuss the B Corp movement, corporate accountability, and infusing business with more anti-racism. Kelsick says that since the Business Roundtable’s statement embracing stakeholder capitalism last fall, there has been a spike in interest at B Lab, the nonprofit that certifies B Corps. And further interest has come from the COVID-19 pandemic and the global reckoning with systemic racism spurred by George Floyd’s killing by police, she said. Business is asking itself what role it plays in society and what value it truly brings.

“There is no better tool than B Corp certification to measure and also manage how to deliver that value,” she said. “Being armed with the right tools to put that thinking into practice is so incredibly important right now.”

To close the episode, Murray asks Faber for his advice to companies starting out on their journey to B Corp certification or including social and environmental good in the fabric of their business.

“I think, first of all, that you have to be conscious of where you started and why is your company existing,” he said. “Your company does not just exist to create profit.”

After reconnecting with your company’s purpose, Faber said, it is important to listen to your critics and younger generations. Seeing your business from an outside perspective is key to moving forward on this journey, he added.

To hear more insights from Faber and Kelsick, listen to the episode below.

Conscious Business in the Time of Corona

By Business

Maintaining values alignment in the time of a Pandemic Driven Crisis while co-creating an equitable and prosperous future for the planet and its people

By Jared Meyers Co-Owner Legacy Vacation Resorts, Legacy Vacation Resorts | June 21, 2020

Almost every industry is struggling with the impact of COVID-19, especially in travel and tourism. The American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA) recently reported that since the US public health issue began escalating (in mid-February), hotels have already lost more than $21 billion in room revenue. The job loss figures are equally as staggering, with nearly 70% of hotel employees having been laid off or furloughed.

The impact is already worse than the 2008 Financial Crisis and 9/11 combined. Travelers from every corner of the globe are limited by travel restrictions as governments and responsible businesses try to contain the virus and flatten the curve. The closure and cancellation of major attractions, events, and entertainment venues has further reduced travel and impacted the people that rely on travel’s economic prosperity for their livelihoods. This virus has exposed weaknesses in the foundation upon which our social and economic systems depend.

While the closing of our economy was initially seen as temporary, the unknown timeframe of our economic shutdown presents challenges on how to rebuild in a way that benefits people and planet. Surviving this downturn is difficult work.  Maintaining a values-driven mission during the global pandemic is even harder, and can feel impossible at times.

At Legacy Vacation Resorts (LVR), we, like many others in the industry, faced tough decisions yet we knew these decisions were critical to ensure equity among all of our stakeholders.  Our business had to survive to achieve its larger aspirations, and these decisions would reflect how we were using our business as a force for good.

At the Start

As a Certified B Corporation, LVR’s values reach beyond financial success and extend to the safety and well-being of our guests, employees, environment, and communities. In the midst of the coronavirus uncertainty, we knew it was our job to lead responsibly, act collectively, and demonstrate authentic care.

When the outbreak began to escalate with closures, cancellations, furloughs and layoffs, our leadership team focused on decision making from a place of truth, equity and compassion – not from fear, rumor, or misinformation. We encouraged employees to lead by example and to see themselves as stewards of our B Corp certification, to demonstrate safety measures for their co-workers and to maintain our values and commitments.

Action in the Face of Adversity

We have learned from experience that measured action during a crisis is always preferable to “waiting it out,” looking for others to lead, or being stuck in a place of fear and indecision. At LVR, acting decisively while doing the right thing, as a citizen of the world, was our guiding principle. We felt strongly that our actions, while small in the global health and wellness sense, would be significant for our employees and service providers.  We knew we had an opportunity to show why a conscious business model was necessary, now for our survival, and in the future for companies across all industries.

Stakeholder-oriented actions should be the cornerstone of a new normal and be preserved in future crises.  This is not to say that all of our decisions were correct.  In fact, we have no assurance that our company, nor any company in tourism will survive this crisis, but we have confidence in our industry and in values aligned business models.


In March, governments began to impose travel restrictions and health organizations made recommendations which would not allow for us to continue operations. Realizing that our revenues would not be sufficient to operate, we submitted for the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL).  After receiving no indication on when the EIDL might be processed and the government ordered shutdowns, we announced the temporary closure of all of our resorts and layoffs for about 50% of our employees, effective at month end and about two weeks later than many in the industry.

We debated layoffs versus furloughs, but with changing information we could not be certain that furloughed employees would receive unemployment benefits. I felt like we failed. Laying off our employees, for reasons beyond their control, was heartbreaking and challenged us to reconsider if we really were the conscious leaders that we once believed.

To help our employees that were now jobless, we launched the B Tourism platform in partnership with our co-created Florida For Good organization and provided access to free resources.  For our retained employees, we continued to pay them a living wage, maintained compensation levels, and modified our practices to permit remote work for all except for a small number in charge of maintaining the resorts.

Over the next few weeks, we sought financial assistance from all available programs.  We managed 26 SBA loan requests, with both the SBA directly and four different banks, plus additional disaster assistance requests. At 4:54 am on the day the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) ran out of money, we were approved.

Less than three weeks after the layoffs, we began rehiring.  Most of the former employees were unable to collect unemployment due to broken unemployment systems. In Florida, only 6% of claims had been processed at that time. These employees were reinstated, maintaining tenure and all benefits previously in place. Because these rehired employees lacked income for part of April, we offered them an employee loan program through one of our banking partners.This program would provide emergency funds with no credit check, free financial literacy, improve their credit score, and build a savings account.

When you consider that only 32% (per Gallup) of employees are engaged at work, this not only feels good, but is a wise investment.


While our resorts have been closed, our customer interactions have primarily been through our call center to field questions and concerns.  We have worked with each customer to their satisfaction and were able to rebook most vacations for future dates.  Our wait times and service levels have been consistent with our pre-crisis practices.

Proactively, we have also used our website, social media and email newsletters to issue statements and remain transparent – an essential quality to Certified B Corps.  We also posted our first 2019 Sustainability and Social Purpose Report during the crisis. We are rebranding, creating a new web experience and investing in projects that will improve our guest experience and ensure safety.


A silver lining to this crisis has been the undeniable observations that our human activities impact our planet negatively. From the clear skies in China to the clean canals in Venice to the worldwide drop in greenhouse gas emissions, this proves we have the power to recreate our world in a harmonious way that protects nature and humanity. This year LVR became carbon neutral and we have maintained that status during the crisis. We have also continued our support of 1% for the Planet, Ceres, We are Neutral, Earth Hour, Earth Day Live and many grassroots initiatives.

While our resorts have been closed we have grown our social responsibility department, employee and guest education programs, improved impact reporting and brought closer alignment between our practices and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.   We are incorporating water reduction features in all guest rooms, further reducing paper use, increasing our renewable energy and replacing the remaining single-use plastic shampoo/soap amenities with refillable dispensers. Our goal of a zero single-use plastic environment is in sight.


We have maintained our commitments, created new initiatives and supported organizations that are protecting our industry, its employees and the underserved.  Through the AHLA, we joined the Hospitality for Hope program at all resorts, signed petitions and garnered support from members within our business networks for expansion of the Payroll Protection Program (PPP).  Through a collective of B Corps, we have supported petitions that protected small businesses, vulnerable communities and companies that insist upon equity, while backing efforts to ensure businesses post-crisis are more B Corp-like.  After all, businesses that take money from “the people” (E.g. Government Stimulus) should have practices and commitments for the benefit of “the people.”

Through Florida for Good (FFG), we continue to promote the Florida business for good and B Corp movements by providing free resources to employees and employers.  We donated tens of thousands of dollars to our co-created 501(c)3 non-profit, For Good Movement, Inc. for it to provide information during this time.  We supported the University of Florida’s Business For Good Lab, where 12 companies completed the program, seven of which scored high enough to submit for B Corp certification.  Another exciting initiative is the recent online launch of the B Tourism platform.  In partnership with other like-minded networks, we are ensuring a more inclusive, equitable and regenerative society.

B Tourism Resource Platform – A Helpful Tool for Now and the Future of Mindful Travel

With FFG, we organized information on SBA loans, remote working, Best Practices in times of crisis, COVID-19 precautions, self-care and mental health, the B Impact Assessment and companies that were hiring.  We realized that this information was not only relevant to FFG’s members and their employees but also to the tourism industry.  We wanted to bring together our community for collective action in their COVID-19 response. This led to the new nationally-focused B Tourism Resource Center.   While B Tourism’s current mission is to help companies through the crisis, the larger goal is to grow the mindful travel movement.

Resetting for a New “Normal”

We have a once in a lifetime opportunity to reset business’ relationship to society.  This is our chance to build resilience before the next crisis, or better yet, to incorporate equity and avoid the crisis entirely.  Our new systems and practices can actually result in travel that regenerates our world.  That is the only way to protect all stakeholders and the only way our guests can truly relax on their vacation.

We need travel to regenerate ecosystems and create harmony among all of its parts. We need it to embrace interdependence and interconnectedness.  We need to use tourism as a force for good, so that travelers can cultivate connections with their family & friends, create their own unique experiences and memories, reduce stress and improve their health, enhance creativity and abilities, all while enriching their appreciation for life itself. We need collaboration, equity, inclusion, and credible action to achieve a shared prosperity for all – a goal that we at Legacy Vacation Resorts are determined to achieve.

Mr. MeyersJared Meyers is a hospitality veteran with more than 20 years in the industry. The University of Florida graduate is passionate about delivering a quality product through his company, Legacy Vacation Resorts, to help friends and families enjoy unforgettable vacations together. One of his other passions? Utilizing the power of his business as a force for good. Searching for a way to use his resources and abilities for positive change, Mr. Meyers learned about Certified B Corporations – companies that voluntarily meet the highest levels of social and environmental performance with transparency and accountability. Inspired by his findings, he immediately set out on a journey to transform his company into a Certified B Corp and also create a movement to help other hospitality and travel businesses to do the same. Always looking toward the bigger picture for his social and environmental impact goals, Mr. Meyers co-created the Florida for Good program. With its entrepreneurial spirit, Florida For Good is the connector between B Corps, Conscious Capitalism, 1% For The Planet, like minded organizations/networks, governments/chambers, academia, and the localized For Good ecosystems throughout the state. Jared Meyers can be contacted at +1 407-997-3135 or Please visit for more information.