Local First Sustainability Conference a Success

Local First held the 4th Annual Sustainable Business Development Conference this past Wednesday at Aquinas University.

The event provided a networking and learning opportunity for West Michigan businesses that have triple bottom line goals and contribute to positive social and environmental change.

“Contribute locally, buy locally,” said Kim Holt of dmStrategists, who moderated a breakout session entitled, Going Green 101: Steps You Can Take Towards Sustainability While Increasing Profits, of which Dan Schoonmaker of West Michigan Environmental Action Council was a panelist. “It’s just good business to spend less resources. A negative environmental impact will likely have a negative effect on business,” said Schoonmaker during the panel discussion. Other breakout sessions focused on improving business by incorporating social networking devices and social equity practices into daily business.

The keynote address entitled Creating a Just and Sustainable World by Creating a Just and Sustainable Business, was given by Jackie Victor, owner of Avalon International Bread in the Cass Corridor of Detroit. Victor told Avalon’s history as an organic bread company dedicated to providing good jobs and quality service to a struggling community.

Victor’s speech had a simple message, “do the right thing and stay focused.” These words mean a lot coming from a woman who runs an organic bread business that continues to be successful and socially active despite extreme economic pitfalls that constantly barrage Detroit.

The conference intended to teach businesses how to make money while building a strong, healthy community. Local First currently has more that 600 business members dedicated to this mission. WMEAC proudly contributed to this event through panel discussions and passing out information about how to live sustainably and protect Michigan’s natural resources.

To get involved in local first or to find out more about the conference, visit the local first website at www.localfirst.com.

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