Compiled By Deborah Austin The Sept. 11 tragedy has dramatically accelerated an already-growing trend: More Americans expect businesses to actively support social needs, and they'll invest money and worker loyalty accordingly. So suggests strategy firm Cone Inc., Boston, based on its 2001 Cone/Roper Corporate Citizenship Study. Today, 79% of Americans believe companies have a responsibility to support causes, up from 65% in March 2001; 81% say they'd likely switch brands to support a cause when price and quality are equal, up from 54%. When deciding what to buy or where to shop, 77% say social-issues commitments are important versus 52% in March 2001. And 76% say a company's commitment to causes is important when deciding where to work -- up from 48%. Eighty-eight percent -- versus 71% previously -- say companies should keep supporting social causes even during economic downturns. "Corporate citizenship should now become a critical component of business planning as Americans are promising increased support for companies that share their values and take action," says Cone CEO Carol Cone.