Building on from the U.S. Green Chamber of Commerce’s recent opinion piece Green Jobs Are Queuing Up To Be The New Economic Drivers Of The 21st Century, which was featured on the organization’s website and called on members to take advantage of all existing funding opportunities that exist, the USGCC has teamed up with The Conservation Fund to talk exclusively about one such program – ShadeFund.
It is a commonly agreed reality that dynamic and competitive industries are essential for any future economic drivers and job creators. So it’s essential that the government and the private sector continue to support emerging markets and support the small start-up and entrepreneurial companies that will become future industry leaders in a new green economy.
Small business makes a vital contribution to economic activity and accounts for 65 percent (or 9.8 million) of the 15 million net new jobs created between 1993 and 2009. So, if we can identify new business opportunities now and support them through the trials and tribulations of the early years of operation, then significant savings can be realized and benefits can potentially be shared around the globe – consumer to business to government and beyond.
We must all agree at this point that one way to grow the economy is to help create new jobs in new industries. But, for the debate around the green economy, it has remained hard to define, measure, and quantify leading to a “travelling without moving scenario” rife with skepticism.
In July, a new report from The Brookings Institution, a Washington based nonprofit public policy organization, began to dispel some of the myths of the industry and showed that currently the U.S. green economy employs 2.7 million workers across a multitude of industries.
Take Michigan for example. It’s not a state you would traditionally think of as taking a leadership role in the green economy but it ranks 12th in the country in terms of its overall size, with nearly 77,000 green jobs. Couple this with an estimated median wage of $40,558 compared to $38,024 for all jobs in Michigan, and then it is an avenue we must pursue if we are to catapult our economy into the envy of the world once more.
It is in times like these that business and government have to realize it is in their best interest to take action early, not be risk averse and grab the commercial opportunities being created by climate change with two hands.
Yet, while we watch Washington weighing up cuts to the sector and dithering about the science of climate change, businesses can be far more proactive in reaping the rewards of an early adoption of best green practice.
However, it’s not as easy as flicking a ‘green switch’ – especially in today’s current financial climate – and grants created through the stimulus package have largely been swallowed up or have seen entrepreneurial start-ups and small businesses being largely ineligible. It should then come as no surprise that many businesses have approached the U.S. Green Chamber of Commerce to help find sources of funding to aid in make such a transition.
The recent debt ceiling debacle highlighted a growing problem with the country’s financing, but it is important to note that the country is not broke. Money exists. Take for example the loans (or financing) available from ShadeFund, which was established by The Conservation Fund with lead grants from the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities and Mercedes-Benz USA.
“ShadeFund grew out of the need to invigorate the growing U.S. green economy,” said Rick Larson, director for sustainable ventures at The Conservation Fund. “The future of American business will be green, but only if our entrepreneurs can get the capital they need to grow.”
“Banks are reluctant to lend to small, young green businesses, no matter how good their idea is, and the personal resources of entrepreneurs can only carry them so far,” said Larson. “That’s where ShadeFund comes in; we are in business to ensure green innovators can get the funding they need to move forward.”
ShadeFund lends $5,000 – $50,000 to green entrepreneurs across America so they can expand their businesses and create jobs. Small business owners working in sustainable forestry and forest products, family farms, eco-tourism, natural food and medicines, or small-scale renewable energy production are encouraged to apply (Examples of companies that have benefitted from ShadeFund’s help can be found on the USGCC website).
“ShadeFund is looking for America’s best green entrepreneurs,” explained Larson. “If you are a small business that’s working in environmentally responsible, creative and innovative ways, don’t hesitate to give us a call.”
The USGCC strongly encourages its members to take advantage of all the funding opportunities that exist. It is in your best interest to take early action, make cost savings and exploit the commercial opportunities that are being created by climate change.
We can help you and your business discover how to make the most of the numerous opportunities available as the US moves towards a new green economy. So get in contact with the USGCC today by logging onto www.usgreenchamber.com and find out more about who we are and what we offer.
U.S. Green Chamber