The Vision

What is a Social Enterprise?

A social enterprise is an organization that applies commercial strategies to maximize improvements in human and environmental well-being—…..They can also take more conventional structures. What differentiates social enterprises is that their social mission is as core to their success as any potential profit.

Many commercial enterprises would consider themselves to have social objectives, but commitment to these objectives is motivated by the perception that such commitment will ultimately make the enterprise more financially valuable. These are organisations that might be more properly said to be operating corporate responsibility programs. Social enterprises differ in that their commitment to impact is central to the mission of the business. Some may not aim to offer any benefit to their investors, except where they believe that doing so will ultimately further their capacity to realize their social and environmental goals, although there is a huge amount of variation in forms and activities. Social Enterprise on Wikepedia

 PART ONE: THE PETITION

Andersen Design is taking time out to re-organize. We need to plan for the next century, and a new generation, much like a fashion house. Our product line and our name recognition can  provide an interesting work experience for a creative team with varying levels of skills. This process requires our time and attention and a supportive network and funding. Andersen Design is a company with extra-ordinarily unusual assets in our large line of classic, market proven designs and our name recognition. We applied for fiscal sponsorship as a social enterprise for a training facility for our production, envisioned as a network of independently owned slip casting studios located in Maine’s rural low income regions.

After taking a considerably longer time than normal to come to a decision, the board decided that the use of the term “production” translates as being in the ceramic slip casting business only for the money. The wording of the decision suggested that if the term “making process” been used instead, Andersen Design might have been accepted as a social enterprise. It is the way the contemporary world turns, on a linguistic phrase.

In the 1950’s the Age of Plastics, Andersen Design’s founding mission was tp create a hand made art product affordable to the middle classes
Let’s take a look at the word “production”, which is said to signify that one is singularly motivated by money. Production is a function of wealth creation. If nothing is produced, no wealth is created. The non-profit and state capitalism sectors  are functions of wealth re-distribution. Wealth cannot be re-distributed if there is no wealth created. Wealth is not created unless something is produced- thus “production” is associated with making money (wealth creation) and wealth re-distribution is associated with the public benefit, as if to say it is a binary choice.

The rise of the social enterprise challenges the notion that a person or entity must be  motivated exclusively by either creating wealth or by a higher purpose. The concept acknowledges the will to good as independent from the economic system in which participates.

My book, Public Private Relationships and the New Owners of the Means of Production, makes a case for why a re-adjustment in the perception of social benefit is needed. My book is based on seven years of research into the Maine economic development statutes and related history. It is a local story with wider significance, The story begins with the Longley administration, at a time when the governor called the heads of Maine’s largest industries in to lead the Legislature. The Legislature deemed that central management of the economy is an essential government function which must be done through public private relationships. The first mission of the board was to create a publicly chartered private investment company that could sell stock with tax credits worth 50% of the investment. The charter contained a clause which still remains in the Maine statutes long after the Maine Capital Corporation has been repealed. This clause grants 100% tax exemption to all companies investing in Maine small businesses. The language of the statute does not use the term “refundable tax credit” but  a tax credit which is simultaneous with a 100% tax exemption, makes sense only if the tax credit is a refundable tax credit, meaning if no taxes are owed the taxpayers owe the holder a cash payment. The Longley doctrine was created by and for the upper crust of the Maine economy. It is justified by deeming it to be for the public benefit, which the Legislature can do simply because it is the Legislature.

Refundable tax credits came into use in the USA in the mid-seventies. In the years since, inflation soared dramatically across the USA:

State capitalism is not only a wealth redistribution system but it also a system which leverages and re-leverages debt, contributing to inflation. Since the Longley doctrine was implemented in Maine. the gulf between the rich and the poor has widened, mirroring what happened across the USA. The widening gulf has coincided with growth in the philanthropy sector, as the free enterprise economy has shrunk under the burden of underwriting state capitalism. Under state capitalism the ownership of the means of production is being transferred to a public-private hegemony, a statement which is supported in my book.

The Andersen Design business plan is for a training, design and marketing center in which we can train the skills and proprietary techniques for producing our line. Andersen Design’s marketing, name, and intellectual property rights can sustain a network of independently own production studios, which will produce Andersen’s line on a contractual basis. This puts ownership of the means of production into the hands of those engaged in the making process. A contractual terms of agreement with a sufficiently funded Andersen Design can provide a financial foundation for the independently owned slip-casting studios. The independent studio can chart it own course, either by continuing to work closely with Andersen Design or going in another direction. or both. The plan includes operating parameters created by Weston Neil Andersen, which is the control panel of a free enterprise system.

Andersen Design is in the unique position to propose such a network, because of the unique nature of our assets, and our history of being one of the few western ceramic companies which did not move the making process overseas to the global low cost labor market, and yet was able to compete against products produced by low cost labor because of the quality and individuality of our art. Andersen Design influenced its surrounding environment as a small ceramics industry grew in the region.

In recent years, due to various factors, Andersen Design has suffered from under-capitalization. Today economic development ideas, consistent with Andersen Design’s philosophy, are being funded by the philanthropy sector. In order to apply for funding, Andersen Design must be fiscally sponsored for its core purpose, as described in our business plan (available on request).

The philanthropy sector provides  a plethora of economic development alternatives to the ideas entrenched in Maine under state capitalism, documented in my book.

THE PETITION

The Maine Technology Institute is a non-profit corporation chartered as a broad public charity by the Maine Legislature. The statutory charter for the Maine Technology Institute provides that the governing board of the charity can own intellectual property rights and make a profit. The non-profit purpose of the Maine Technology Institute is, in short, to support private companies developing products for the commercial market, which is said in the statute to be an IRS approved (501)(c)(3) purpose. There is be no issue in matching the purpose of Andersen Design with the non-profit purpose of MTI. However, currently, MTI’s only function is to provide matching funds to private enterprises already well capitalized. MTI does not serve a broad spectrum of the economy.

Please sign the petition for MTI to serve the broad economy in Maine by offering fiscal sponsorship for all Maine Made Products. Maine Made Products is a state program and is not a non-profit corporation. A fiscal sponsor must be a non-profit corporation.

Please give what ever additional support you are able to promote this petition so that companies like Andersen Design can have access to economic development funds consistent with our philosophy and purpose.

www.andersendesign.biz

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