In 2017, Local First launched its Good For Grand Rapids programming, recognizing businesses that make a positive impact on employees, local communities, and the environment. On September 20, Local First announced an expansion of the initiative across Michigan from Grand Rapids to the Lakeshore, Traverse City to Ann Arbor, and beyond.
“We’ve heard from businesses across Michigan that they want to replicate Good for Grand Rapids in their own communities. Good For Michigan is an opportunity for businesses statewide to demonstrate their social and environmental impact,” says Elissa Sangalli Hillary, Local First president. “We believe good business matters and Good For Michigan recognizes businesses that go above and beyond to do good in their communities and create opportunities for people to thrive and succeed.”
Like Good for Grand Rapids, Good For Michigan recognizes companies using business as a force for good. Any business that can demonstrate its positive impact on employees, its community, and the environment can join. An online assessment enables companies to measure their positive impacts. Nearly 100 businesses have taken the assessment over the past year.
Community Automotive Repair is a Grand Rapids business that’s been making those kinds of impacts for the past 40 years. When Local First introduced the Good For Grand Rapids program, the shop was an easy fit.
“I’ve always been interested in environmental issues,” says owner Richard Zaagman. “We try to recycle as much as we can at the shop — 95 percent of the heat that we use is obtained from waste oil. This has been something we’ve done for 40 years. We recycle metal, the steel products we take off vehicles, and paper, of course.”
Community Automotive Repair’s new, LEED-certified, two-story addition brings its total number of windows to more than 200. Zaagman wants his staff to enjoy the benefits of natural light, fresh air, and a comfortable work environment. He also feels it’s important to create a space that people living in the community appreciate. Instead of a brick wall, passersby can see right into the shop and observe the vehicles and techs at work. At the end of each work day, the staff puts an interesting vehicle up on a hoist under the low-energy LED lights. As the shop specializes in imports like Porsche, Audi, and Mercedes, these are quite a sight to see.
“I can’t say that I’m motivated by a financial perspective,” Zaagman says. “The extra money that we invested in our building isn’t necessarily something that comes back to us as a return-on-investment. But it’s not just about money. It might cost you a little more to treat your employees the way you’d want to be treated, but in the long run, you end up with better, more long-term employees. The more stable your business is, the better it is for the community and the city.”
In addition to recognizing businesses making these specific positive impacts, the Good For Michigan program seeks to encourage more Michigan businesses to seek Certified B Corporation (B Corps) designation. B Corps businesses balance profit and purpose by meeting high standards in the areas of social and environmental performance, transparency, and legal accountability. Good For Michigan also offers an online assessment that helps businesses determine if they qualify for the designation. Current West Michigan companies with Certified B Corps designation include Brewery Vivant, Cascade Engineering, Essence Restaurant Group, The Gluten Free Bar, Highland Group, and Image Shoppe.
In addition, Good For Michigan offers resources and best practices for sustainability and social good, and provides educational workshops, programs, and events.
“Local First’s Good for Grand Rapids initiative has positively impacted our city, and we are excited that they are taking the campaign statewide to new communities,” says Trevor Corlett, CEO of Madcap Coffee Company and Local First board member.
“Good For Michigan recognizes the growing number of businesses that are taking steps to make a positive impact on people and the environment, and we are looking forward to seeing more businesses partner with Good For Michigan in their own communities.”
Written by Estelle Slootmaker, Development News Editor
Photos courtesy Local First and Community Automotive Repair