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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Oregon Legislature. This is a venue for political and policy coverage of the state government in Salem and its impact on the people of Oregon.

Shareholder Profit No Longer Highest Priority For Some Oregon Companies

Socially-minded companies in Oregon have a new way to prove their commitment to the greater good.

Starting Thursday, a new law allows businesses in Oregon to register as a "Benefit Company." It means those companies will no longer be required by law to place shareholder profit as their highest priority.

Eric Friedenwald-Fishman is the founder of a Portland-based marketing firm called Metropolitan Group. He says he signed up on the first day.

"As an owner of a benefit company, you can make choices that value the needs of not only shareholders, but also of employees, of your community, of the environment," says Friedenwald-Fishman. "So it creates much better flexibility for the owners of companies than the current corporate form."

The Oregon Secretary of State's office says 29 businesses signed up on the first day. Oregon is the 20th state in the nation and the first in the Northwest to offer this business designation. About five dozen companies in Washington are registered as Social Purpose Corporations. It's a similar program, but doesn't require third party verification.