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I believe that businesses have a larger role to play in society than simply creating value for their shareholders. Businesses are in a unique position to impact others for good with the combination of cash and talent that they typically have at their disposal. Unfortunately most businesses are focused solely on their bottom line and/or their stock price. I do not see this as being the result of a lack of caring about society at large or a lack of resources to make an impact. Rather, it is a result of most businesses not knowing where to start having an impact on theircommunities or not knowing how to sustain what they already started.

 

     What the world needs is not only more businesses recognizing their responsibility to do good, but a methodology for businesses to use in their pursuit of good. Millions of textbooks, magazine articles and newspapers articles have been written describing processes to increase revenues and lower costs. Very few books and articles have been written, however, to teach business leaders the value of dedicating portions of their resources tothe social problems that plague the world. Thousands of universities and colleges each day teach students how to create winning strategies or become successful entrepreneurs. Yet very few courses focus these students on how they can give back to the communities that are so crucial to their professional success.  In my business we have started the process of not only giving back to our community, but also teaching others with similar resources to do so.

      In the fall of 2011 Southern Star created SSI Cares (ssidish.org) a charitable organization that invests in the health and wellness of our employees and the surrounding community. Our motto is EQUIP, INSPIRE, INVEST, EXAMPLE. First, we equip employees to live a healthy lifestyle through fitness and wellness programs. Next, we inspire employees to positively impact their communities by offering paid time off each month to volunteer. Third, we invest in progressive community programs through cash donations to location charities. Finally, we set an example for other businesses to follow.

     The example portion, we believe is the most important step of SSI Cares if we are to scale our impact and do something larger than ourselves. Through this tenant of SSI Cares we offer free consulting services to local business that want to give back to the community but do not know how to get started. Our team presents to their employees and sets up a custom program tailored to that businesses unique need. We believe that this program can build upon itself and lead other businesses to not only give back to their communities as we have, but also allow them to teach others. This type of giving can grow exponentially where as the impact that Southern Star could have on its own could only follow a linear path along our own profit growth.

     I am proud of the work that we have begun at Southern Star to impact our community. As this program grows we will fulfill our responsibility as a responsible and caring corporate citizen and bring many others along with us.

Yours in service,

Jeff Fesperman Executive VP – Southern Star Inc.