Cindy Ryu had an idea. She was on the Shoreline City Council at the time and was concerned that small business needed support and education to ‘green’ the economy. She talked with King County Councilmember Bob Ferguson and soon the Shoreline Chamber of Commerce got a letter from the county. They received a $10,000 grant to start a “Green Business Program”.
The first step was to build a website to be “a one-stop shop for small business”, including certification, available programs, how-tos, and the like. Then in June 2008 they held the first North King County Green Business Conference, entitled “From Policy to Profits- Connecting the Dots”, an overview of how “everyone plays a role in either helping or hindering our economy in going green”, as Wendy DiPeso, Chair of the Shoreline Green Business Program, told me. About a hundred people attended to hear educators, policy-makers, and businesspeople speak, a big success.
It wasn’t like other events. There are academic conferences, but they aren’t focused on the immediately practical. There are festivals for the general public, but they’re more for the home than the workplace. This one was for business, and more specifically, small and medium-sized business.
“Small business has a greater impact on the environment than large corporations.(Simply because there are so many more people working for small business than corporations. Much of what they do is not regulated because of the small scale.) Small business also provides more jobs than large corporations.”, DiPeso says, “The middle class and small medium size businesses are the economic engine of the country. The economic recovery that has started, as you know, has been uneven, and many small businesses are still struggling. Doing whatever we can to help small business is a way to help create our own economic recovery.”
Now it’s back! On March 23rd Shoreline Community College will host the North King County Green Business Conference with the theme “Go Green to Save Green- Getting More Bang For Your Buck”. Topics presented will include Pollution Prevention, Waste Reduction and Recycling, Transportation, Water Conservation, Energy Efficiency, and Marketing in a Green Economy in two breakout sessions, plus networking time, lunch, speakers, product and service displays.
As their business plan puts it “Shoreline as a community is perfectly positioned to lead the rest of the State in creating a green economy. This is made possible due to a partnership with clearly defined roles between the City of Shoreline, Shoreline Community College, Shoreline Solar Project and the Shoreline Chamber of Commerce’s Green Business Program and its supporters.”
And it’s more than “positioning”. After a long process the City of Shoreline adopted a sustainability strategy in 2007, then backed it with real achievements: the new City Hall is certified LEED Gold, has completed their first Green Streets project, is modifying the building code, and sponsors Earth Day events, Environmental Mini Grants, and this conference.
The other sponsors of the conference include:
Cleanscapes, leaders in environmental practice. They don’t just pick up garbage, they work with firms to reduce waste- and bills.
Shoreline Community College has developed a Solar and Zero Energy Technology program and a Business Administration program which includes a
Sustainable Business Leadership course.
Stellar Event Rentals- the first small business certified by the Shoreline Green Business Program.
Barefoot Imprint is SGBP certified also and is deep in planning the Conference.
The Shoreline Solar Project works to promote practical, renewable energy and general environmental responsibility.
I encourage every business owner to go. You’ll help yourselves and everyone else.