Sustainability is the capacity to endure. In ecology the word describes how biological systems remain diverse and productive over time. For humans it is the potential for longterm maintenance of well-being, which in turn depends on the well-being of the natural world and the responsible use of natural resources. — Wikipedia 032410grnventurepic2.jpg

For many, mixing ecology and the corporate world is a foreign idea. Production numbers and sales figures don’t always flow seamlessly into resource conservation and air quality at first glance — but maybe it should. At least that is the thinking behind the first annual Green Business Conference hosted by the Fayetteville State University Center for Entrepreneurship, Sustainable Sandhills and the Fayetteville- Cumberland County Chamber of Commerce on March 31.

The day is going to be packed with interesting lectures and discussions covering topics like green consumer products, green jobs and green economy, what federal, state and local governments are doing with available funds, community sustainability, green construction and public/private partnership in making green economy.

There will be subject-matter experts from the local, state and national level.

“It is really a broad scope from the national and multinational corporate perspective like Wal Mart all the way down to a local electric membership co-op,” said Sustainable Sandhills Executive Director Jon Parsons. “What I’ll be talking about is some of the efforts of local government — specifically Fayetteville and the Cumberland County schools. They have got some great green programs underway. We are trying to give it broad brush strokes so there is a little something for everybody in the conference.”

With the economy like it is, Parsons is aware that many businesses are just looking to make it through the recession and going green may not be the first thing on their to do list. It is certainly not always obvious that going green can save money if you just look at the short term adding of costs, but Parsons contends that in the long run it is important for long term profitability and competitiveness.

“Greening your business really is important and I think the fact that we’ve got multinational corporations like Wal mart and Herman Miller — these are companies that are certainly profitable — speaks volumes. Let’s just be honest Wal mart is a very controversial company to have at a sustainable conference,” said Parsons. “They do have a story to tell — as do the other companies — for local businesses that might not have that perspective. I think that is what is important about the conference.”

On a smaller scale, there is also a lot going on at the state-level through the stimulus funding. Larry Shirley who is the Director of the Green Economy in the North Carolina Department of Commerce has a lot to do with how the stimulus funding comes down into the local community to grow the green economy. It is a natural tie to this green business theme.

“Larry is working closely with Sustainable Sandhills in a couple of sessions at the conference,” said Parsons. “The sessions the I am in involved in are on more of a community scale. Larry will be talking in our sessions about state funding and how that comes down and we have a speaker from Bladen County because agriculture is the biggest business sector in the state. Agricultural sustainability is a big topic. We also have a speaker from Lumbee River Co- Op because there is a lot of focus in the funding about green energy. He will be presenting a pilot project that they are working on — a smart grid project.”

The event starts at 8 a.m. and lasts until 4 p.m. Contact the Chamber of Commerce at 484-4242 ext 233 for more information or to register.

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