IU South Bend workshop to show how sustainability can be a platform for prosperity
With early signs of jobs and growth re-appearing in northern Indiana and southern Michigan, how can the area chart a pathway to the future that will enable the area to become stronger and more resilient, with greater potential for growth?
The Center for a Sustainable Future at Indiana University South Bend proposes that sustainability and innovation can be a path to prosperity for businesses and individuals. It will present the second annual day-long workshop "Sustainability and Innovation: The Natural Step to Prosperity," this Friday (March 11) from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the South Bend Marriott Hotel.
The workshop will provide an introduction to the basic principles of sustainability; examples of how businesses and communities are using sustainability as a foundation for innovation, efficiency and community and economic development; and hands-on exercises on how to create and implement a sustainability action plan for one's own business or organization.
In conjunction with the workshop, the center is launching the Michiana Sustainability Leadership Program, a three-year initiative that will include advanced sustainability training for a select group of leaders in the fall, along with a lecture series and a sustainability mentors program.
A planning team for the project includes representatives of the Small Business Development Center, the Chamber of Commerce of St. Joseph County, Memorial Hospital, the city of South Bend's Office of Economic Development, JF New, and The Troyer Group.
Regina Hauser, executive director of the Natural Step Network (USA) will lead Friday's workshop. Over the past nine years she has worked with communities and companies including Boeing, Nike and General Mills. She will be joined by Mike Keen, founding director of the IU South Bend Center for a Sustainable Future.
One of the world's leading sustainability research and training organizations, the Natural Step Network (http://www.naturalstep.org/) is an international non-governmental organization dedicated to education, consulting and research in sustainable economic and community development.
It offers a systematic approach through which business, government, and the not-for-profit sectors can develop their own sustainability action plans. Since 1989, it has worked with thousands of corporations, municipalities, academic institutions and not-for-profit organizations to prove that moving strategically toward sustainability leads to new opportunities, reduced costs, and dramatically reduced ecological and social impacts.
By working with The Natural Step framework, companies such as Nike, IKEA, Skandic Hotels, and Starbucks, as well as communities like Portland, Ore., and Madison, Wis., are creating innovative, sustainable solutions and driving the transition to a sustainable future.
Companies committed to a sustainable vision also enjoy a number of clear commercial benefits including product and service innovation, competitive advantage, improved customer and employee loyalty, increased shareholder value, cost savings and better environmental sustainability.
While such workshops typically costs $200 per participant, generous support of underwriters enables the Center for Sustainable Future to offer it for $35 per participant, including lunch. The underwriters include First Federal Savings Bank, JF New, Notre Dame Office of Sustainability, Press Ganey, Lehman and Lehman, the Chamber of St. Joseph County, and the Small Business Development Center.