Monday, August 17, 2009

'Green and clean' and good business go together

Bluffton Today

Thanks to all of you who emailed or called with words of support on the clerk of court matter. I am especially grateful to the lawyering community for their overwhelming approval of my handling of this unfortunate situation. Last week’s column, in my view, answered all the concerns that might reasonably be held. Apparently, the more serious and sober among us agreed with the wisdom of the plan and the need for its expeditious execution.

As you read this, I am in Winston-Salem, NC, at the Southern Legislative Conference. I came up Sunday and will likely be here until Tuesday. As much as I dislike giving up a Sandbar Sunday with my family and Bluffton friends, this conference is such a great opportunity to meet with business concerns that might be considering an expansion or relocation, I just can’t miss it. You may be tired of hearing me go on and on about the necessity of attracting quality companies to our area. Companies that offer good jobs to support Bluffton families. You might, however, feel differently if you needed one of those jobs, or one of your children had to move away in search of one of those jobs.

In a somewhat related vein, I recently got a congratulatory letter from an outfit called BIPEC. BIPEC is the South Carolina Business and Industry Political Education Committee. These are folks that push for legislation that they perceive as friendly to business and industry. BIPEC has a complicated calculus for determining if a particular legislator is “business friendly” or not. They do this by comparing a district’s expectation score with a metric involving a particular legislator’s voting record. I said it was complicated, didn’t I? Well, the upshot of the deal is that your legislator more than doubled their expectation score, apparently an unprecedented event.

I was, of course, grateful for the recognition, especially since I had also been named “Legislator of the Year” by the South Carolina Conservation Voters, as reported to you in a previous column. Can one person be acknowledged by a business and industry group, as well as by one of the state’s premier environmental groups? What does this mean?

What I think it means is this: In order for our state to advance, we must all realize that good business is “green and clean” business. A conservation ethos already is part of the DNA of all forward-looking companies and corporations. It is a way of tracking and managing the true costs of doing business that separate the success stories of the future from the cautionary tales of the past.

It is also recognition of the fact that for too long, we have been told that we have to choose between jobs and a clean and healthy place to live and work. In the old days, an industry might ignore the true cost of doing business by simply dumping waste into a river that carried it out of sight. There were costs, but they were not borne by that industry. No more. The new model of good business is to take that “waste” and convert it into a valuable product that adds to the bottom line.

Next week, I will tell you about an innovative company in Bluffton that is doing just that. You will also hear how your representative is trying to incentivize other companies to create similar business models.