Etsy co-founder explains why Local First’s new campaign is good for Grand Rapids:

GRAND RAPIDS, MI -- "Reimagine commerce in ways that build a fulfilling and lasting world."

That's the mission statement of Etsy, a $3 billion company with 54 million members and a business model committed to making an impact in local communities.

It was written by Etsy co-founder Matt Stinchcomb. He was in Grand Rapids on Monday, Jan. 6, to speak about the company's values approach to business and led a discussion at LaFontsee Galleries in the evening on "Etsy and the Art of Social Impact."

The Brooklyn-based online global marketplace is used by artists and makers around the world to buy and sell unique and handmade products.

Etsy is the first -- and currently only -- public company certified B Corp. The 12-year-old company has pledged that its values will take precedence over making profits. In 2015, Etsy reported a net loss of $54.1 million, although gross merchandising sales climbed about 24 percent to nearly $2.4 billion.

B Corps are companies that are dedicated to making a positive impact in local communities.

Stinchcomb led Etsy's certification efforts to be a B Corp. The company's commitment to making a social impact came from staff collectively reading books such as 2007 bestseller "Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future" by environmentalist Bill McKibben and the 1973 classic "Small Is Beautiful: A Study of Economics As If People Mattered" by British economist E. F. Schumacher.

The theme of those books was focusing on a big number of small things instead of a small number of big things, Stinchcomb said. In many ways, that summed up why Etsy has resonated so quickly with so many.

"We have to question the endless economic growth in a world of finite resources," Stinchcomb said, summing up the philosophy.

In West Michigan, Local First is leading the way in the development of new B Corps.

There are 16 Michigan-based businesses certified as B Corps, including 14 from Grand Rapids. Most are in West Michigan. they include companies designated as certified B-Corps include Cascade Engineering, The Image Shoppe, Essence Restaurant Group (and three of its restaurants), Gazelle Sports, Catalyst Partners, The Gluten Free Bar, Bazzani Associates, Better Way Imports, 616 Lofts, Brewery Vivant and Highland Group.

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