Social Enterprise Initiatives

Concept Overview

The definition of social enterprise is the practice of furthering financially sustainable innovations targeting the remedy of a social problem. Homelessness is a community issue that affects residents, our community and local businesses. The Community Development Division supports several initiatives to expand social enterprise businesses, the inclusion of business partners to impact homelessness and continues to seek logical, business planning solutions to impact homelessness.

Business Consortium Project

The City Council approved awards for this homeless housing / employment project on December 13, 2010, including:
  • $200,000 to Rimrock Foundation for the purchase / acquisition of housing units to house the homeless.
  • $100,000 to The Salvation Army for the purchase of equipment to support a social enterprise business to employ the homeless. This award was later moved to the Rimrock Foundation via inter-agency agreement, with approval from the City Council, to support the business aspect of the project and better facilitate implementation.

Council of Visionary Companies

Nonprofit organizations are often considered the only agents capable of impacting poverty and homelessness. A few nonprofit utilize a social enterprise business venture model as a means of sustaining their mission. There are also for-profit visionary businesses that have core values and purpose beyond just making money. A group of visionary business owners in Billings is networking in an effort to elevate the city through the power of the workplace. By fostering a supportive environment in which employees, customers, vendors and owners can all benefit, the Visionary Business Network supports and develops the potential of the for-profit business sector in finding solutions to the community’s problems.

The 2010 Visionary Business Conference was held May 27, 2010 at the First Interstate Bank Operations Center, 1800 6th Avenue North, Billings MT. For more information, see the conference flyer and agenda.

Additional Efforts

  • Social Enterprise Conference, February 2008: featuring Pioneer Human Services, a social enterprise company based in Seattle, Washington.
  • AmeriCorps VISTA positions to support overall initiative through the Billings Metro VISTA Project.
  • Elevate the Workplace Concepts - the inclusion of social service supports for current employees to maintain employment.
  • Support Model for Businesses / Social Service Providers - Community Development endorses a support model for education and linkage between service providers and businesses to expand and support social enterprise.