West Arête earns recognition as certified benefits corporation

West Arête, a State College software company, has become a Certified Benefits Corporation, which denotes a business that displays social and environmental responsibility.
West Arête, a State College software company, has become a Certified Benefits Corporation, which denotes a business that displays social and environmental responsibility.

Used to creating applications that help change the world, one State College software company continues to change the concept of “work.”

West Arête, located on 301 S. Allen St., became a certified benefits corporation, or a for-profit company that displays social and environmental responsibility according to rigorous third-party standards.

The company became the first homegrown B corporation in State College.

“Honestly a lot of it was personal,” West Arête President Scott Woods said. “It was the sort of thing I wanted from my work environment — in order to feel like as I was going to work every day, I was doing something really worthwhile with my life.”

As part of the certification, West Arête demonstrated a commitment to working on projects that benefit the community. Among others, the company was integral in developing the living wage calculator, which has helped influence the minimum-wage conversation around the country, and built an app that pulls from county records and depicts an interactive map of where oil and gas leaks are occurring throughout Allegheny County.

“We try to pick out projects that are a force for good in the world,” Woods said.

B Lab, the nonprofit that conducted the review, certified that about 70 percent of West Arête’s revenue comes from projects that it considers as having a positive social outcome, Woods said.

The company is also a member of 1 Percent for the Planet, a bike-friendly business and has fine-tuned several efforts to affect employee health and well-being. Each member of the nine-person team at West Arête is able to go on a one-month sabbatical each year. The effect on morale and productivity has been manifold, Wood said, due to the renewed sense of camaraderie it affords the group.

“You get that difference between everybody fulfilling their responsibilities and saying ‘that’s good enough’ and everybody really going above and beyond and saying ‘hey, we’re working on doing something really important together,’ ” Woods said.

Signaling success

During last week’s Pennsylvania Associated Press Broadcasters Association awards banquet in Harrisburg, Penn State’s WPSU took home some hardware.

WPSU earned four awards at the annual event. News director Emily Reddy and associate producer Erin Cassidy placed first in Best Continuing Coverage for “Proposed Student Housing Complex Raises Worries Over State College Water Supply.” The story, which appeared about a year ago, elucidated the debate surrounding a land sale and the potential environmental effects of residential development on the property.

“We’re always happy when someone says that we’ve been doing a great job,” Reddy said. “When you’re on radio, sometimes you just feel like you’re sending it out into the universe and you don’t always hear back what people think. So this is a little bit of answer of what people think and it’s always nice.”

Reddy also placed second for Best Feature for a story on the Mennonite church and its interpretation of issues surrounding LGBT concerns. She earned third place for Spot News Coverage for the story, “Students React to Fraternity Suspension Over Nude Photos.”

Eleanor Klibanoff, who came to WPSU last July, garnered second-place honors for Best Use of Sound (radio only) in “The Pope Isn’t the Only Big Act in Pennsylvania,” a story that documented some of the state’s big events outside of the pope’s visit last year. Seeing the groundhog Punxsutawney Phil and the Little League World Series in Williamsport were two of the events featured in the piece.

The PAPBA awards featured 290 entries from 18 television and radio stations.

Giant comes up big

Last month, Giant Food Stores came up big for military families.

Associated with the company’s annual Women in Leadership Conference, Giant donated 40 tons of food, cleaning and health care supplies to Liberty USO at the end of April. According to a release, the donation will affect military families in need in Pennsylvania.

About 500 associates attended this year’s conference and were asked to collect donations. Between May 8 and May 21, Giant customers also donated to the cause during the company’s Support Our Troops campaign.

Johnson & Johnson provided additional health care items.

Roger Van Scyoc: 814-231-4698, @rogervanscy