Motivated by Southeast Michigan's brain drain, Grace Augustine and Barb Aylesworth formed a local chapter
of Net Impact
, a sustainable business network that has over 10,000 members worldwide.
"The future of our economy lies in the hands of the next generation," says Augustine, who works for the William Davidson Institute
at the University of Michigan. "We are raising the talent, but somehow we are not convincing them that there are careers here with the value system that this next generation is looking for." She points to Google as an example of a company that understands this value system.
Though Net Impact was founded in the late 1990's, the organization only just recently expanded its purview from university business schools to the professional world at large. Its newest chapter, Southeast Michigan, hit the ground running in July.
While encouraging the development of socially and environmentally responsible business ventures is its primary goal, the organization also pushes to change larger companies and organizations from within. Augustine calls the individuals responsible for making such systematic change "intrapreneurs."
The chapter has already found a receptive audience in the purchasing and engineering departments at domestic auto manufacturers. "The automotive industry is not going anywhere," says Augustine. "And we want
to nurture it and hold onto our automotive roots."
Net Impact recognizes, and wants to spread the word, that sustainability makes financial sense for companies big and small. "The key point is that sustainability -- the triple bottom line
-- is not about making sacrifices in our communities," says Augustine. Citing the example of DTE Energy's investment in a wind farm on the west side of the state, she says, "This is about the creation of X
number of jobs to meet consumer demand -- it's not just altruistic or philanthropic ventures anymore."
The group's first event featured an Ann Arbor fair trade start-up, 7 Loaves
, and their second event, on October 24, will tour the green-built student center at Lawrence Technological University. The speaker will be LEED certification specialist Jim Newman.
For more information, visit Net Impact's Southeast Michigan site
Read metromode's profile of Jim Newman here
and a past article about LTU's student center here
.Source: Grace Augustine, Net ImpactWriter: Kelli B. Kavanaugh