September 14, 2012| SamBurlum | Energy, Environmental, Green Technology, Written by, Samuel K. Burlum, Investigative Reporter and author of The Green Lane, a syndicated column Published by The Alternative Press.com, and www.SamBurlum.com
Wow, what a great question. As many people sit idle without gainful employment, either they were on unemployment, or their unemployment benefits ran out, many ask the question what are they going to do now in order to provide for their families.
In tough economic times, many of the filtered-down government subsidized programs have lost their funding, only prolonged the inevitable, long lines at the unemployment office. Many of the upstarts in the environmental, energy, and green technology industry sectors jumpstarted by government grants and incentive programs have only lost the fuel in their tank, now creating the ripple effect of workforce to go for broke.
We hear in the major media the devastating effects of corporate welfare bail-out packages for some of the largest companies in the green industry. One great example is the company Solyndra. In 2011, President Obama had shouted much praise from the company’s state of the art manufacturing facility, located in California, commenting that Solyndra was a successful example of government money building the green industry, and putting people back to work. But in the end, $535 million dollars’ worth the stimulus money could not salvage the firm from going under, and it took with it over 1,100 ‘green’ industry-related jobs. Solyndra was not alone; another large solar manufacturer firm, Evergreen Solar Inc., also met the same fate.
So if big companies like Solyndra, and Evergreen failed, is there any hope for the ’green’ industry to deliver on the jobs so many of the unemployed have been waiting for?
The answer to the question is yes, but some of these jobs are coming from entities you least expect. While smaller institutions are building their brands locally, they are proving their business models on a regional model, assuring long-term success. Many of these firms are small self-funded upstarts, who have three or four years worth the track record. They offer a modest salary and rewards, so funding requirements remain low, allowing for capital infusions mainly from friends and family.
On the flip side, the industry is still in its infancy stage. With the green culture mainly embedded into the lifestyle of Millennia and Z generation, many who would spend their resources on such purchased have not yet reached a peak in their earning or buying power that will allow them to drive the market demand. Industry is dependent on the spending of consumers, and with many of the future consumers not yet even in college, we are still years away from seeing the green industry becoming main stream.
The downside for these companies is that because they are not a major brand yet, top industry talent (potential employees) will not chance their personal reputation to go to work for these upstarts, without having a clause in their contracts that they have zero responsibility to when things go awry. Another challenge is that the technology these smaller firms are introducing into the market place (not having yet established a major brand recognition), their product lines sometimes will face criticisms by skeptics who are more comfortable with large brands.
If you think these small firms are floundering, think again. Many of these firms have exercised strict operational budgeting tools thus they never had one cent of bail out money, grant money, tax incentives, or fall burden on their community. These firms are creative in nature, demonstrate fiscal responsible policies, and usually offer their own in house employee training programs. They have weathered the economic downturn, and have stayed ahead of the trends, creating new paths of prosperity and job creation along the way; poised for huge financial gains up the upswing.
So who are they and where are they located? What is the value they provide? How do they help us as a community? Let’s take a look at a few entities from around the country that have been practicing localized sustainability models for success.
(1) Eastern Energy Systems, Laurel, NY
Jamie J. Minnick had founded Eastern Energy Systems, located on the far tip of Long Island, working originally in the solar installation services sector. Under his leadership and guidance, Eastern Energy Systems have expanded to offer geothermal, wind, and solar technologies in addition to the technical services the company was originally founded on.
“The economy always has an effect on every business – oddly enough how it effects most businesses has to do mainly with their ability to see opportunity and to stay positive. Our sales did decline as a result of the economy, but we found new strategies and products that helped us gain more market share and propel Eastern Energy Systems to remain one of the top renewable energy companies on Long Island,” commented Keri Paterson, Eastern Energy Systems Operations Manager.
“A down economy is the best time to buy solar. Most people end up selling their homes at a loss in a down economy, but for those who have invested in solar, property values increase on average by $45,000; about three times the after incentive cost.”
Currently Eastern Energy Systems employs a team of people from technicians to administration, and offers internships to those interested in earning credits toward their education in the renewable energy sector. More about Eastern Energy Systems can be found at their website www.e2sys.com.
(2) BKW Transformations Group Inc., Piscataway, NJ
BKW Transformations Group Inc, located in New Jersey, is a management consulting firm that provides business process management consulting services through its program, project management and business analysis expertise. BKW’s head, Beverly White, started the business after an extensive career at Big 5 Consulting Firm, Accenture LLC. White has deep skills and expertise in strategy, process, technology and organizational transformation. BKW Transformation was founded just a few years ago and led by experts who make up many years’ worth the experience in the Fortune 500 world.
BKW, an award-winning company, now brings that knowledge and wisdom to companies looking to make their mark in their specialized industry sector. BKW has started to etch its mark in sustainability as it relates to reduction in GHG. It was a natural extension of their core business services because they have their consulting hands on the pulse of sought out efficiencies in removing redundancies in process and technology; and managing project timelines to the shortest delivery possible. BKW worked with NJIT to develop a software prototype that will support its clients in tracking GHG and operating cost reduction as a result of sustainability initiatives. BKW has been reported in the industry analyst group publication, Verdantix, INC and the well-known Huffington Post.
“BKW recognizes that it may only get one chance to get it right. Therefore, recruiting the necessary and qualified professionals with superior skill sets and experience, balanced with a good understanding of client relationship management is paramount to advancing BKW’s standing in the industry,” stated White. “This is achieved by recruiting business professionals who specialize in target industries of communications and high tech, financial services, life science and government disciplines focusing on client needs.”
More about BKW Transformations Group Inc. core consulting services and its sustainability offering can be found at their website: www.thebkwgroup.com.
(3) The Alternative Press (TAP Into), NJ
TheAlternativePress.com, has many environmental and information benefits. Since the media format is completely online, there is no need for the cutting of trees for paper to print on. TheAlternativePress.com is an all-online hyper local news source currently reporting on the happenings of many communities in New Jersey in Union, Essex, Morris, and Sussex Counties, and is accredited with the New Jersey Press Association. It was started in October 2008 by Michael and Lauryn Shapiro. You can find out more about The Alternative Press at www.thealternativepress.com.
Is It Real?
Many out of work question, “Is the green job market real?” And, “How come I can’t find a job working in the traditional position I am accustom to? “
These questions are asked everyday as people wash all over the internet and classifieds for job leads. Doing the same old thing and expecting a different answer is just insane. As economic and environmental sustainability becomes the new standard practice, the transition is inevitable, and those on the job hunt will have to cross the bridge to the other side. And I ask, “Why wouldn’t they?” They would be on the ground floor where glass ceilings don’t exist and there is the most room for advancement, promotion, and financial reward. It’s time for those stuck in stagnation, to get in “The Green Lane”
Samuel K. Burlum is an investigative reporter who authors articles related to economic development, innovation, green technology, business strategy, and public policy concerns. Burlum is also a career entrepreneur who lends his expertise as a consultant to start-up companies, small businesses, and mid-size enterprises, providing advisement in several areas including strategic business planning, business development, supply chain management, and systems integration. He is also author of The Race to Protect Our Most Important Natural Resource-Water, Main Street Survival Guide for Small Businesses, and Life in the Green Lane-in Pursuit of the American Dream.