The Upside of Green Business

What provides jobs, serves the public and aims to conserve resources, prevent pollution and minimize waste? The answer: A green business.

ORANGEBURG, S.C. — What provides jobs, serves the public and aims to conserve resources, prevent pollution and minimize waste?

The answer: A green business.

"I think a lot of businesses fail to address environmental issues in day-to-day and long term," said Craig Williams, Amtec Control Integration Company Inc. owner. "We have been involved with many recovery projects where excess process material has been recovered and reused in other processes or sold to other manufacturers to be used in their processes. This usually happens with a cost savings or incentives to the manufacture to add these additional processes."

Amtech Control is just one of about a dozen Orangeburg County businesses partnering to promote a better Orangeburg County through the Orangeburg Green Business program.

The program, a partnership between the Orangeburg County Chamber of Commerce and the Orangeburg Keep America Beautiful, aims to recognize businesses that have made a contribution or implemented measures to ensure environmental-friendly processes within the business. The program is free to businesses and completely funded by the OCCC and KAB.

Amtec Control, an engineering firm specializing in industrial process control, was founded in Neeses in 1989.

Williams touted the program as a key to bringing "awareness in recycling, the environment, and general appearance of ... work areas and areas surrounding your facility."

"The biggest (environmental) measure has been to reduce the amount of paper we run trough our printer," Williams said. "We have reduced it to about 1/3 of what it had been by using the print preview features in Windows and reusing both sides of paper when copying. We also utilize washable coffee cups, plates, and utensils to reduce waste."

"We take much pride in our facility and make sure it is always looking good," says Mike Wolfe, Orangeburg National president and Green Business participant "From our standpoint it is important for all to take pride in their city and how it looks."

Wolfe says when the bank joined the Green Business program, the entry was a hand-in-glove match.

"We did not have to change any procedures to comply with the Green Business program mission statement," Wolfe said.

Wolfe said jumping on board with the Green Business program was "nothing new" for the bank as it has made it a company policy to always be "very mindful of the environment."

The bank has supported KAB programs in the creation of green areas in Orangeburg, recycles trash and uses recycled products when possible.

Wolfe also pointed to the recent green space added at the corner of Broughton Street and Glover Street, along with the bank's new drive-through automated teller machine.

The only criteria to participate in the program is for businesses to complete a survey-style application, which evaluates policies on waste management, refuse storage, recycling, green spaces and various other aspects of environmental stewardship.

Based on the number of questions answered affirmatively (about 14 of 18 questions), the business may be designated green.

The business is then given a decal and certificate and published in the chamber's Onward Orangeburg newsletter.

Jim Johnson Jr., coordinator of the Orangeburg County Green Business program and manager of the Green Business Prescription Shoppe, said the program will both reward businesses that are environmentally conscious and encourage others to get involved.

"I have been doing business here for some time and there is not much of a focus on the environmental aspect," said Johnson, who has worked with KAB and OCCC. "I began looking and saw an absence of something pertaining to businesses in their programs."

And so taking his idea from the national KAB program, Johnson brought the idea of Green Business before the OCCC. The program was approved in February 2006.

"It is going very slowly," Johnson said. "We are still in the early stages."

In practicing what he preaches, Johnson says the Prescription Shoppe has placed recycling stations in its business as well as placing cigarette ash trays outdoors so individuals will put butts in an appropriate place.

The business has also created a green space by putting plants, a park bench and palm tree in front.

To help promote the program, Johnson said mailings have been sent to chamber members and the chamber's newsletter has included information.

Other green businesses and organizations include: Downtown Orangeburg Revitalization Association, Hibbitts Insurance, the Edisto Pet Clinic, Orangeburg County Library and Amtec Control.

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Source: Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News

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