When some people hear fruitcake they get a little anxious, but one Northeast Kingdom company is trying to change that.
Cara Hill is the head baker at Bien Fait. They hand make specialty cakes and bars in small batches in their Greensboro kitchen. But it isn't just the taste that make their products stand out -- they're a low-profit limited liability corporation, or L3C.
"Ours is an artisan, small batch product and that allows me to make something for the love of making it rather than the profit of making it," Hill said.
An L3C is a hybrid between a for-profit company and non-profit -- meaning 100-percent of Bien Fait's profit after things like payroll and supplies must go to a non-profit. Bien Fait has chosen Wonder and Wisdom, a summer and after school program for kids in the Northeast Kingdom.
"They're new on the national level and new to the federal government as well," said Jim Condos, Vermont Secretary of State.
Vermont was the first state to pass the legislation in 2008. There are now 173 L3C's in Vermont and four other states have approved similar legislation.
"The bakery is an example of what an L3C can do. You can create a sustainable business model and the outcome can provide education, nurturing programming for kids who really need it," said the company's Hilary Hoffman.
Bien Fait is a taxable, for-profit business whose primary goal is to achieve a social mission. Profit is their secondary goal. "How many cakes can we sell that will then be given to those kids? It makes you want to show up to work," Hill said.
The specialty cake company says being an L3C is even more important now with the state and federal government slashing budgets because of the deficit. "Charitable pools of money aren't getting larger -- there's more and more requests for those funds," Hoffman said.
Although Bien Fait didn't tell us how much they contribute to Wonder and Wisdom, they did tell us they're vital to the non-profit and are the largest contributor they have.
But it's not all cake for L3C's because the IRS has not signed off on the business model. The non-profit company chosen has to be approved by the IRS which can be a very time consuming process and companies could face hefty fines if they partner with an unapproved non-profit.
Gina Bullard: "Do you think being so socially responsible helps you stand out as a company?"
Hilary Hoffman: "We're realizing its a major part of our branding and that's what we're working very hard on."
A Vermont company breaking the cake and business mold.
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