Foley Advises on Newly Enacted Wisconsin Benefit Corporation Legislation

27 November 2017 Media Contact: Jill Chanen News

Foley & Lardner LLP advised legislators on the enactment of benefit corporation legislation in the state of Wisconsin. The new legislation, which was signed into law today by Gov. Scott Walker and will go into effect February 25, 2018, will bring Wisconsin in line with 35 other states offering companies the option to become a corporate entity not only responsible for considering financial returns to stakeholders, but also offering companies the option to become a benefit corporation.

A benefit corporation is a for-profit company pledging to focus on not only profit and shareholder value, but also on creating a positive impact on society. Some of the specific public benefits include:

  • Providing low-income or underserved individuals or communities with benefit products or services
  • Promoting economic opportunity for individuals or communities beyond the creation of jobs in the normal course of business
  • Improving human health
  • Promoting the arts, sciences, or advancement of knowledge
  • Increasing the flow of capital to entities with a public benefit purpose

More than 3,500 companies in American, including Patagonia and Plum Organics, are organized as benefit corporations. Large corporations and startup companies across industries from Wisconsin expressed interest and support this legislation.

“We are honored to play a role in moving this legislation through and are thrilled to begin registering local businesses as benefit corporations,” said Andrew Nelson, partner at Foley & Lardner LLP. “The support both locally and nationally has been tremendous, and we believe allowing companies to consider public benefits alongside shareholder value in the decision making process will be an asset to our community.”

The bill does not dilute shareholder value, impact the state fiscally, alter tax code in any way or otherwise impact existing corporations or their regulations.

A team of attorneys at Foley & Lardner LLP, including Jason Childress, Joe Leibham, Andrew Nelson and Nicholas Herdrich, worked with bipartisan authors of the bill, Sen. Pat Testin, Rep. Ken Skowronski, Rep. Dianne Hesselbein and Rep. Dale Kooyenga, to support the passing of the bill into law. The firm is also representing companies interested in registering as benefit corporations.

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