Monday, November 06, 2006

The components of sustainability

The components of sustainability are like spokes pointing towards the center of a wheel- all are necessary in order to reach our ultimate vision of a sustainable society.

The truth of this is very visible as sustainability is incorporated into the many sectors and sizes of the business community. We need the Wal-Marts of the world to be more conscious of reducing the impacts of their business, just as much as we need new companies to begin to offer significantly more sustainable products, services and business models.

Inc magazine focused a portion of the November edition on exactly this topic. They have identified The Green 50: the most intriguing entrepreneurs in the green revolution. These companies are at various stages of their development, many of whom have moved beyond the status of entrepreneur. Something notable: very few are located in the midwest and none are from Chicago.
Is it too easy to say that our farm and manufacturing roots, with no mountains or progressive governments, are the reason for our delay in the eco-revolution? We certainly have a strong eco-entrepreneur base in Chicago, but what's missing that keeps us from being a destination?

The answer probably lies in what it really takes to get a new sustainable enterprise off the ground? You need financing, of course. You need vision, a market, and a strategy. And good timing. How do we create the environment where these things come together for Chicago? The City could offer incentive packages to attract new businesses, but without the other critical components, businesses aren't any more likely to succeed.

I don't think it's just because of our bias that we at the Alliance think that being part of a community makes a big difference. Involving other minds in your plan to find and then get exposure in your market is critical.

What else can the Alliance provide to turn Chicago into the eco-entrepreneur center of the country?


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