The Triple Bottom Line
Economic Impact Defined
The third dimension of a sustainable business is economic impact. The economic impact of a business’s operations is viewed internally and externally. The sustainable business will consider its own economic impact on the communities in which it operates, such as:
1 Job Creation
2 Impact on local wages
3 Impact on real estate in close proximity to the business
4 Tax flows
5 Investment in disadvantaged areas
6 Impact on public works and social services systems
7 Other indicators that the business has positively contributed to local economic growth while maintaining corporate profitability
Economic impact does not refer to the profitability of the business as indicated on the financial statements, although profitability is critical for survival. The sustainable business will also look externally at suppliers to ensure they are engaged across the supply chain with other companies that share similar values and practices. It is assumed that the sustainable business’s contribution to a strong and healthy local economy will lead to a strong and healthy future for the business.
Common activities include the payment of fair and living wages, providing positive impacts on the local economy and on local economic development (job creation, tax dollars, property values), and assessing the stress or relief created for local public service systems as a result of the business’s operations.
Example - The El Dorado Promise
El Dorado Promise
The El Dorado Promise, a strategic philanthropy initiative of Murphy Oil Corporation, is an inspired example of corporate economic impact.  Murphy Oil Corporation, a Fortune 500 company, is headquartered in El Dorado, Arkansas, a small, rural township with an estimated population of 20,341. 
One year after announcing the Promise program, there was an 18% increase in college-bound seniors.  After 2 years, the community has seen a 4% increase in school enrollment, the local community college has seen a 16% increase in enrollment, and families from more than 28 states and 10 foreign countries have moved to El Dorado. 
In order to address the interrelated problems of declining industry, population, school enrollment, and talent pool from which to draw, Murphy Oil Corporation announced that it would donate $50 million to a scholarship program for local students, creating the El Dorado Promise program. The program is expected to provide scholarships to students for the next 20 years.
Example - Alaffia Sustainable Skin Care
Alaffia Sustainable Skin Care (Olympia, Washington) is the North American retail and wholesale distributor of Fair Trade shea butter, African black soap, and tropical oils from the Alaffia/Agbanga Karite Cooperative in Togo, Africa. The company follows a triple bottom line approach (people, profit, and planet). Alaffia’s relationship with the Cooperative brings income to and empowers communities in Togo.
Additionally, Alaffia and Agbanga Karite donate 10% of sales proceeds (or 30% of income, whichever is greater) to community empowerment projects, AIDS and malaria outreach, and educational scholarships in Togo.
With the help of others, the nonprofit Global Alliance for Community Empowerment (GACE) was formed to oversee community projects that focus on self-empowerment, the advancement of fair trade, education, sustainable living, and gender equality in Togo. Through work individually and with GACE, Agbanga Karite Cooperative has provided more than 300 children with books, uniforms, and supplies for the 2004-2005 school year; paid the school enrollment fees for these children; donated desks and chairs to a local primary school in the village of Adjorogo; and donated and installed new school roofs on rural schools in central Togo.
Alaffia sponsors Bicycles for Education, donates school supplies and uniforms, funds reforestation projects, and started the Alaffia Women’s Clinic in Togo. Alaffia also provides scholarships to Washington state students, donates soap and lotion to women’s shelters, offers Fair Trade talks, tours of the Washington facility, and community outreach and education on Fair Trade.
Example – Greyston Bakery
Greyston Bakery (Yonkers, New York)is an example of social entrepreneurship at its finest. The for-profit bakery was started to provide employment opportunities and economic renewal for this inner-city community.
The bakery’s facility was selected as a Top Ten Green Project in 2004 for its use of natural light, rooftop gardens, efficient machinery, and the use of outdoor air to cool baked goods. The bakery produces many traditional baked goods but is well known as the exclusive supplier of brownies for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream products.
All profits from Greyston Bakery go to support the Greyston Foundation, which offers affordable child care for the community, affordable housing for homeless and low-income families, and affordable health care for persons with HIV.
Example – The White Dog Café
The White Dog Café (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) is a restaurant that supports sustainable agriculture by purchasing seasonal, local, organic ingredients from local farmers whenever possible.
White Dog Café donates an amazing 20% of pretax profits to nonprofits and the café has also created its own nonprofit, White Dog Community Enterprises.
White Dog Café has a mentoring program with a local high school’s restaurant, hotel, and tourism program, organizes community tours through different Philadelphia neighborhoods, hosts annual multicultural events, participates in Take a Senior to Lunch Day, and hosts speakers each month on various social and policy issues.
In addition to supporting sustainable agriculture, the White Dog Café partners with “sister” restaurants in the area that are minority-owned. This project encourages customers to visit neighborhoods they otherwise might not visit and to support minority-owned businesses and cultural institutions. The sister restaurant project also has an international dimension to foster awareness, communication, and economic justice worldwide. The international program offers educational tours to the countries of international sister restaurants, a chef exchange program, hosts international visitors, and promotes Fair Trade.
Example – Boulevard Bread Company
Boulevard Bread Company is a multisite restaurant committed to being a low-impact and environmentally friendly business. The company buys organic produce from local sources when possible. The company uses biodegradable and compostable disposable utensils and cups made from corn or potato by-products. Carry-out containers that are not compostable are recyclable. Boulevard Bread sells only 100% Fair Trade and organic coffee, uses earth-friendly cleaners, uses recycled paper products, and recycles glass, cardboard, aluminum, and plastics.
In addition, Boulevard Bread supports the community through charitable donations, collaboration, local sustainable agriculture, and through training and mentoring other green food businesses.
Boulevard Bread Company joined forces with other local restaurants to create the Green Restaurant Alliance to network and support area restaurants pursuing environmentally friendly operations.
The company is pursuing zero waste. All locations have been retrofitted with energy-efficient lighting, and the main site has installed a tankless water heater.
 Landrum, N. (2008). Murphy Oil and the El Dorado Promise: A case of strategic philanthropy. Journal of Business Inquiry, 7(1), 79-85.
 U.S. Census Bureau. (2007). Annual estimates of the population for incorporated places in Arkansas. Retrieved April 2, 2008, fromhttp://www.census.gov/popest/data/historical/2000s/index.html
 Hillen, M. (2007, May 27). 205 El Dorado seniors getting set to take on Promise’s challenge. Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Retrieved June 8, 2007, from LexisNexis.
 El Dorado Promise. (2008, January 18). El Dorado celebrates second anniversary of Promise scholarship program. Retrieved March 3, 2008, fromhttp://www.eldoradopromise.com/news/Story.aspx?storyID=4
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