Cicilline Introduces Bipartisan SEEED Commission Act to Support Social Enterprise Community

WASHINGTON – U.S. Reps. David N. Cicilline (RI-1) and Tom MacArthur (NJ-3), a co-chair of the Congressional Social Investment Taskforce, today announced the introduction of the bipartisan Social Enterprise Ecosystem and Economic Development (SEEED) Commission Act. If enacted, the SEEED Commission Act would help legislators identify how to support the social enterprise “ecosystem” in our country.

“Throughout the United States, social entrepreneurship has gained increasing recognition. It is a movement and an economic phenomenon that is helping to power our economy and improve our communities,” said Cicilline. “Local communities often face difficult and sometimes overwhelming challenges. But our social entrepreneurs are transforming our society in ways traditional systems and programs of government cannot, which makes the imperative for our government and policymakers to recognize and support these social enterprises all the more critical.”

“Social enterprises and the creative, hard-working Americans that develop them are using innovative business models to tackle pressing societal challenges, all while saving taxpayer dollars,” said Congressman MacArthur. “The SEEED Commission will explore the ways America’s entrepreneurs and risk takers are positively impacting their communities through social enterprise, and ensure that policymakers better understand how to support them as they do so.”

The Social Enterprise Ecosystem and Economic Development (SEEED) Act would establish a Commission on the Advancement of Social Enterprise to examine ways for the federal government to support the goals of non-profits and corporations that primarily seek to provide a benefit to society. The Commission would last for two years and conclude by making a series of formal policy recommendations.

“Social Enterprise Greenhouse is thrilled that Congressman Cicilline has taken the leadership to reintroduce this important bill. The legislation is timely as the number of social enterprises is growing exponentially and supporting them through a more enabling environment will result in increased economic and social impact,” added Kelly Ramirez, CEO of Social Enterprise Greenhouse.

In sum, a social enterprise is a business or non-profit organization that seeks to catalyze significant, long-term positive social change by utilizing the marketplace – after identifying a challenge, a social enterprise will offer a product, service, or program that delivers value to the whole of society.

The social enterprise movement has gained momentum in recent years as more and more non-profits and businesses have focused on providing a public benefit through their operations. At least 30 states have already amended their corporate statutes to recognize this new form of corporation.

The SEEED Commission Act is a critical step toward recognizing the importance of social enterprises to our society and our economy and identifying how we can support a social enterprise “ecosystem” in our country. The commission will

Bring together administrators from a multitude of federal departments and agencies to address ways the federal government can support and utilize social enterprises.
Identify ways the federal government can work in collaboration with, and support of, social enterprises to create greater social and economic returns while addressing community challenges.
Draw upon existing experience and scholarship to establish criteria for identifying social enterprises for purposes of accessing federal initiatives.
Identify and refine the role social enterprises play in our economy, as well as how the federal government can build the capacity of our social enterprises – providing recommendations on how the tax code, tax incentives and credits, loans and debt financing for non-profits, grants, and procurement can be put to best use in supporting social entrepreneurship.
Study other topics, such as: how the federal government can engage social enterprises in creating jobs, how social enterprise can advance social and economic development goals, a statistical and qualitative examination of social enterprise within the U.S., and how to improve federal contracting opportunities for social enterprises.
The Commission would last for approximately 2 years: 1 year to establish criteria by which to identify social enterprises, and another year to submit a report on the Commission’s findings.