By: ALLISSA CORAK
While many measures have been taken by the City of South Bend to become sustainable and eco-friendly, local small businesses and the city are always looking for ways to go even further.
That was the goal of the Green Business Workshop and Showcase held at the Century Center in Downtown South Bend on Oct. 17.
Partnering with the city’s sustainability office and the Michiana Area Council of Governments, those from South Shore Clean Cities (SSCC) showed off ways for area businesses to save money while lowering their environmental impact.
The event kicked off with several different speakers including the mayor’s chief of staff, Laurie O’Sullivan. She noted the already implemented, so-called green accomplishments for the city, such as solar energy implementation, Smart Sewers, Smart Streets and emission reduction efforts.
She also touched on the city’s spending of over $40 million on parks and trails to improve public safety, public health and attractiveness of the city.
However, the city’s efforts would not be nearly as successful without the 13 partnering businesses adding to the mayor’s commitment to an eco-friendly city. As Therese Dorau from the South Bend Office of Sustainability said, “We do a lot of outreach with citizens but it is also important to support small businesses.”
Companies like Waste-away group, Nipsco, Inovateus Solar and the Troyer Group had the opportunity to network from booth to booth and exchange ideas.
Some of those ideas included the use of alternative fuels to help slash emissions, improve the air we breathe and support local farmers as SSCC’s, Lauri Keagle explained.
SSCC is one of only 100 clean cities coalitions nationwide, providing education and outreach programs, as well as grant writing to offset the cost for companies with a ‘green’ fleet of vehicles.
The push for use of alternative fuels such as ethanol in those fleets has not only reduced dependence on petroleum based fuels by 16 million gallons, but simultaneously supports the local corn farmer.
“Not only does going green help them to operate more efficiently, it’s good on their budgets. It’s going to help them save money in the long run,” said Keagle. “It’s also good for American jobs.”
Juan Hernandez from the Latin American Chamber of Commerce of South Bend said it’s local workers that keep the city sustained.
Hernandez said too many times, he sees workers from different parts of the region contracted for construction or similar jobs because it might be more cost effective for the building company.
However, keeping locals in the area for work is necessary to form a thriving industrial community.
The comprehensive idea of the event seemed to encompass the quality of life for those living in South Bend and how the companies who cater to residents can help.
With the teamwork between the partnerships, there is no doubt that South Bend will continue to “go for the green.”