The North Florida Green Chamber of Commerce (NFGCC) has announced its board of directors for 2020.
NFGCC is a regional networking organization for all sizes of businesses and community organizations including non-profits that emphasize green and sustainable business practices.
Mary Tappouni, president of Breaking Ground Contracting, is chairman. Vice chair Marc Hudson is the Land Protection Director at North Florida Land Trust. Kelly Karstaedt, Executive Director of the Jacksonville Justice Association, is secretary. Jessica Handley, Tax Manager at BDO, is treasurer.
Other board members include Tracy Alloway, PhD, an award-winning psychologist, professor, author and TEDx speaker; Craig Barzso, co-founder of Altways, a St. Augustine based business helping people go solar and founder and CEO of LifeWare TEK, developer of Internet-based sales, marketing and supply chain systems for major brands and Paul Sifton, part owner of 927 Events and partner of Bee Friends Farm.
These members bring a diverse background in business, non-profit and government service to the North Florida Green Chamber Board of Directors.
In addition to promoting the economic success of NFGCC members using environmental, socially responsible and sustainable practices, the North Florida chapter has ongoing networking and educational events, job fairs, newsletter as well as sponsorship opportunities, discounts and a mentoring program.
A Green Tie Affair was held in January at 927 Events, in downtown Jacksonville. The North Florida Green Chamber was celebrating its one year anniversary and announced the official launch of the Green Marketplace. (Photos by Anita Levy)
The Northeast Florida Regional Council (NEFRC) has compiled a resource guide for small businesses in North Florida that have been dealing with the far-reaching impacts of the COVID-19 breakout.
The seven-page guide features federal and state guidelines, a preparedness checklist, information on disaster financial assistance, communication and disaster recovery resources as well as information on social distancing, how to keep the virus from disrupting your business and keeping commercial establishments safe.
“This is a comprehesive guide prepared by NEFRC that can help our members and businesses throughout Northeast Florida weather these anxious and hectic times,” noted North Florida Green Chamber Executive Director Christina Kelcourse.
The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to Florida small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza announced.
SBA acted under its own authority, as provided by the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act that was recently signed by the President, to declare a disaster following a request received from Gov. Ron DeSantis.
The disaster declaration makes SBA assistance available in the entire state of Florida.
“SBA is strongly committed to providing the most effective and customer-focused response possible to assist Florida small businesses with federal disaster loans. We will be swift in our efforts to help these small businesses recover from the financial impacts of the Coronavirus (COVID-19),” said administrator Carranza.
SBA Customer Service Representatives will be available to answer questions about SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program and explain the application process.
Applicants may also call SBA’s Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955 or email firstname.lastname@example.org more information on SBA disaster assistance. Individuals who are deaf or hard-of-hearing may call (800) 877-8339.
Completed applications should be mailed to U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155.
The deadline to apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan is Dec. 18, 2020.
For more information about Coronavirus, please visit: Coronavirus.gov. For more information about available SBA resources and services, please visit: SBA.gov/coronavirus.
You probably already think you should be a more environmentally friendly business… but it sounds expensive, right?
It’s a sound investment for a number of reasons. According to the EPA there is little doubt that environmental issues are going to alter the regulatory and market landscape in the near future. Energy-efficient companies will be better able to navigate these regulatory changes and be better positioned to weather negative events like energy price spikes.
Also, consumers are flocking to safe, non-toxic, green products. People are becoming more conscious of their choices and are willing to invest more in a product to participate in this movement and to protect their family.
That alone should be enough motivation. But consider also that many of the world’s top organizations are investing billions of dollars into environmental sustainability programs–a good indication that small business owners should follow suit.
The Sands Las Vegas Corporation touts some of the most beautiful and popular vacation properties and convention centers around the world. It implemented The Sands ECO360 Global Sustainability program. Today this values-driven program is considered an integral part of the company’s overall business strategy. A behind-the-scenes tour of a Sands property will reveal an enormous on-site recycling center where employees hand sort every ounce of garbage to separate recyclables.
They also recycle and filter millions of gallons of water for use in decorative water features and new low-flow urinals. And, electricity consumption has already been reduced by 5 percent; not bad considering a 27 percent growth in net revenue which has increased the demand for energy.
The good news is that a green program doesn’t have to cost a fortune for a small business. Try these simple steps to kick off your sustainability program.
Make green thinking a part of your company culture.
Engage your employees in your new vision. Create efficiency goals and make it fun and inclusive by celebrating your success. How can you measure your savings? How can your green mission enhance your community or better serve your customers? Get ideas and input from your employees and they will embrace your new goals.
Change light bulbs.
You won’t save 10 million kWh of electricity each year like the Sands Las Vegas Corporation does, but swapping to LED lighting is definitely worth the investment. LEDs use far less energy and do not contain mercury and other toxic gases contained by incandescent and fluorescent lights. They are pricey upfront but will last about five times longer than other bulbs.
Eliminate plastic bottles.
In 2011, 32 million tons of plastic waste was generated in the U.S. alone. Sure, some of this plastic is recycled but why add to the environmental burden? Install a water filtration system in the office. Not only will the water be fresh and clean but you will save time and money by avoiding the packaged water habit.
Do business with green vendors.
The Sands Las Vegas Corporation chooses vendors like Hewlett Packard and General Electric because they too follow aggressive sustainability guidelines. Interview your vendors to find out about their sustainability efforts. If you use a printer, ask if they use recycled paper. Look for companies that use energy efficient vehicles and manufacturing plants that have practices in place to reduce their carbon footprint.
Conserve human energy.
Consider that healthy, energetic employees will be more creative and productive. Help to keep your team healthy by creating a safe, non-toxic environment. Serve sustainable brain food at meetings: nuts, organic fruits and vegetables, and even dark chocolate all play a role in maintaining mental acuity.
Host a fundraising event.
Cause-driven programs are excellent for your image and public relations; and it feels good to support something that is meaningful and far reaching. Adopt a green cause and do an annual fundraising event. There are all sorts of conservation campaigns you can participate in, from planting trees to raising funds for environmental studies scholarships. Find one that’s close to your heart and involve your online and local communities.
Recycle and reuse.
How often do you toss old papers and used glass and plastics into the trash bin? Come on, admit it! Look into your community’s recycling program and enlist the support of your team to meet recycling goals. Also, purchase recycled paper products and ink cartridges. Even certain furniture and other big ticket items contain recycled goods.
Use green cleaning products.
Do you love the smell of a nice, clean office? Guess what: Many of those familiar scents are toxic to your body and to the environment. Replace window cleaners, dish and hand soaps, and bathroom cleaners with green brands. Some of them may seem pricey but many are concentrated and will save money in the end. The benefits include improved health, increased clarity, a reduction in allergic reactions, and a healthier planet. A small price to pay.
Sustainable development cannot be achieved by a single individual or enterprise. Everyone must participate. You will demonstrate your leadership and commitment to a healthy, safe future by joining the ranks of business leaders who make sustainable choices.
Share your ideas here. What have you done to green your office?
The North Florida Green Chamber offered students a unique opportunity to network with professional leaders in sustainability as part of Plant Your Future at the UNF Ogier Gardens.
Nathan Ballentine, AKA “The Man in Overalls”, demonstrated how to source food naturally.
Students also connected with Mary Tappouni, President of Breaking Ground Contracting, about new innovations & opportunities in sustainable construction. They found out the newest opportunities in Solar technology with Craig Barzo, the co-founder of Altways LLC.
And chatted with Christina Kelcourse, the Executive Director of the North Florida Green Chamber, along with other leading professionals in the Jacksonville Community*