Triple-bottom-line strategy working for small biz

Small, local businesses are increasingly embracing social responsibility and promoting environmental health — and making a profit in the process. “When people come to me, I’m their first choice, a locally owned business that can produce at value,” says Guy Bazzani, whose small Michigan firm restores old buildings using green techniques. Bazzani started Local First, a network of more than 250 independent businesses in Grand Rapids, Mich.; it joins 34 similar business networks, consisting of more than 11,000 local businesses in the U.S. and Canada. The networks have sprung out of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies, which promotes profit-making through social and environmental consciousness. “We wanted to be a force to make businesses become positive role models,” says BALLE cofounder Laury Hammel. “The question is whether you can serve an economic master and have these other values at the same time,” says management professor James Post. “The answer is yes.”