Small and medium-size businesses: Readers respond with examples of sustainable development

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Courtesy of Richard MacLean & Associates, LLC

In my January 2009 column, I appealed to readers to supply me with some “breathtaking” examples of small- and medium-size businesses (SMBs) that demonstrate cutting-edge practices in sustainable development. That article was prompted by an earlier e-mail request I had sent to nearly a dozen senior colleagues that yielded so few examples as to be not only disappointing, but perplexing. As one colleague stated, “It’s hard stuff to find. There’s a dearth of SMB case studies.” This month, we examine the response by EM readers.

Nineteen experts responded providing the names of 37 companies and 13 organizations active in SMB sustainable development programs. I have been writing columns and journal articles for over a decade and this was one of the best responses I’ve ever received. Clearly, there is a keen interest in this area, as is evident by the expanse and substance of the information provided. It is not possible to explore in detail the information collected in a single column, so instead, results are listed with direct quotes.

By far, Terry Foecke with Materials Productivity of Minneapolis, MN, provided the most thorough assessment— a nearly 2000-word analysis of 10 of the companies (see sidebar opposite for a list of companies suggested by readers). For example: “Geneq is a good example of how important sustainability innovations can be created within firms that have a good chance of achieving important impacts. The use of the Geneq chlorophyll meter allows precise monitoring of the effects and need for agricultural nitrogen additions via fertilizer.”

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