The New Jersey Sustainable Business program, which also includes an optional registry for businesses that offers best practices businesses can adopt to become sustainable, is the result of NJSBDC's strategic planning and understanding that many customers and stakeholders seek out and prefer businesses who employ environmentally-conscious practices.
"We take pride in our counselors, our products and services, and the impact they have for our small business clients," states Brenda Hopper, NJSBDC network chief executive officer and State Director. "Adding sustainability consulting and the business registry to NJSBDC's repertoire of services and specialty programs is just another example of our mission to provide business owners with the type of education, training and service that will have high value and produce positive outcomes for businesses and the communities they serve."
In addition to the no-cost environmental counseling services, the NJSBDC, in collaboration with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP), and a host of other business and non-profit partners and supporters, have developed a New Jersey Sustainability Business Registry. The registry is an Internet site where businesses that have implemented pollution prevention and sustainable business practices can register their achievements. "The registry will give small businesses the resources and tools they need to become sustainable," said NJDEP Assistant Commissioner Bob Marshall.
"In order for the network's clients to get the advice they need to differentiate themselves, stay competitive, and implement the most effective and appropriate 'green' practices, small businesses need a helping hand," said Deborah Smarth, NJSBDC chief operating officer and associate state director. While larger corporations, particularly those in the Fortune 500, have adopted and made sustainability an essential part of their operations and strategic plans, smaller ventures usually lack the in-house, technical, or financial resources needed to make changes or improvements, especially in such an esoteric area where success is measured by kilowatt hours, gallons, or metric tons.
"That's why," Hopper explained, "We have had a strong and long-standing relationship with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, and have taken an active role in many of their programs geared to small business sustainability practices." This special registry initiative has the strong commitment and collaboration of the NJDEP, the NJSBDC network and other business and non-profit stakeholders who want smaller businesses to succeed by educating them on the economic benefits associated with cleaner and more efficient environmental practices.
The NJSBDC network's partnership with the NJDEP coupled with the EPA grant award funding have made it possible to recruit the expert consultants available to work with businesses in diverse industries concerning various pollution prevention or sustainability topics. This effort is totally voluntary on the part of small business owners and the initiative is unrelated to any regulatory or workplace compliance issues.
According to Ms. Hopper, "businesses contacting us need to understand that this is not an enforcement program, despite the involvement with or support of any regulatory agency." The objective of the NJSBDC network, as well as that of the NJDEP and EPA, is education, and strictly in keeping with the title and scope of the grant, which is, "Encouraging and advancing pollution prevention practices among small to mid-sized businesses."
Businesses that contact the NJSBDC network for advice will be put in touch with one of NJSBDC's sustainability consultants. As is the case with all NJSBDC consultants, they are experts in a specific field and concentrate on providing services in their expertise areas. The sustainability consultants selected for this program join a cadre of NJSBDC network consultants who, for over three decades, have provided one-on-one customized management consulting and training to tens of thousands of established small businesses and entrepreneurs.
"Green practices are quickly becoming expected rather than optional," added Ed Kurocka, a consultant who has worked with the NJDEP and is managing this grant program for the NJSBDC. "In addition to many other free benefits, we feel that membership and recognition in the Sustainable Business Registry will be a credible way for a business to project its commitment to society and the environment, as well as a factor adding to its growth and competitive advantage."
Participants in the counseling and registry programs will also be eligible for a new NJSBDC network Sustainable Business Award, beginning in 2015. This honor will be bestowed at NJSBDC's annual Success Awards event, where businesses from NJSBDC's twelve regions and specialty programs are recognized for growth and significant accomplishments.
To take advantage of the NJSB pro bono consultations, or for help with the New Jersey Sustainable Business Registry, email your request to NJSBinfo@NJSBDC.com. An experienced sustainability consultant will be happy to speak with you in person, on-line, or by phone. You can also find out more about these programs by going to the Sustainability link, under the Services tab on the NJSBDC network website (www.njsbdc.com), where you can also complete a request for counseling. The New Jersey Sustainable Business Registry web pages and application can also be accessed from a link on the NJSBDC homepage.
About America's SBDC New Jersey (NJSBDC)
This non-profit network is a federal-state-educational partnership. Its expert staff and business practitioners help small business owners and entrepreneurs with every stage of business development and growth. The network headquarters is located at the Rutgers Business School in Newark. Its major funding partner is the U.S. Small Business Administration. The New Jersey Business Action Center is an additional funding partner of the NJSBDC program as well as other public and private grants/sponsorships. The NJSBDC network (America's SBDC New Jersey) is an accredited member of the national network of SBDCs, with more than 1,000 centers and satellite offices throughout the country serving and assisting small businesses and saving and creating jobs across the nation. For more information, visit www.njsbdc.com.