Kansas City, MO — Kansas City business and civic leaders along with organizations such as BASE KC and the American Sustainable Business Council attended a discussion September 27th at UMKC’s new Bloch Executive Hall of Entrepreneurship and Innovation. The topic of the event was the local impact of climate change on businesses. The two-part meeting covered the barriers and opportunities businesses have with sustainability as well as the role entrepreneurs play. Two groups of panelists spoke about their sustainability efforts.
One of the panelists in the discussion was Amy Hargroves. She leads the Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability efforts for Sprint. “The role of innovation and entrepreneurship with all of this is enormous.” Hargroves said. “I think about some of the companies we are able to support. It is so exciting.” One of the companies is making an environmentally friendly phone case. “It captures methane and creates plastic so every phone case that gets sold is a plus to the environment. Its just incredible.” Much of the meeting was spent with the company representatives touting their sustainable practices within their own industries.
The underlying theme of the entire discussion was to make sustainable and “green” efforts not only the right thing to do but also the most business friendly and economical thing to do. Dennis Wierzbicki, the president of Grundfos USA, expressed his interest in doing more around sustainability, and wants the local community more involved in these efforts. He used the example of the European branch of his business. They talk with their competitors to create better standards for the companies. He wants that to happen more in the United States. “We can wait for the government forever. We can wait for someone else to do something but maybe we as industry associations and competitors should do it together.” Wierzbecki said. “You can just start having those dialogues and say how do we start doing something to create better standards and be more sustainable in what we do.”John McDonald, founder and president of Boulevard Brewing Company, summarized his feelings towards sustainable efforts. “At the end of the day, if it is important to you and your company – do that. We need more people doing the right thing.”