Growing the Green Economy Blog

Delta Assesses the State of Green Business in the Great Lakes Region
February 19, 2010, 6:38 pm
Filed under: Emerging Green Industries, Resources and Tools

On February 9, 2010, Delta Institute co-sponsored The State of Green Business Forum, organized by The one-day forum addressed the opportunities and challenges facing the green economy and highlighted developments in Chicago and the surrounding region. The Delta Institute’s founder and executive director Donna Ducharme shared her perspective on local opportunities and challenges: :

“Our big challenge on a regional basis is to figure out where we’re going and pull the resources together to get there,” said Donna Ducharme, founder and executive director of The Delta Institute, one of the region’s most respect green economy leaders.

“Energy efficiency and reducing waste will be crucial to success in the region, and larger companies are currently leading in those areas, she said. There is “lots of promise” for more activity and job growth at smaller companies and in emerging sectors, including renewable energy technologies such as wind, solar, biomass, as well as advanced battery technology.

Chicago is now the headquarters for 10 wind-power companies, up from seven a year ago and a sign that the Great Lakes region has more renewable-energy activity than many realize. Energy efficiency is a hot topic, and state and federal grants in this area are expected to grow by tens of millions over the next three years. The green economy is growing despite the fact that Chicago has among the lowest costs in the country for electricity, water and landfill services.

According to DuCharme, moving the needle requires seed capital to develop new industries and infrastructure for redevelopment and green businesses. Today, that money is hard to come by because lenders are risk-averse. Smaller community banks that could fund local ventures are “lending on more conservative terms and not funding startups,” she said. The Chicago area is the third largest in population but 14th in terms of the amount of venture capital it receives, and Ducharme said that is a “big disconnect” with the amount of green activity and potential.

The green economy also holds significant potential for employment growth in the region, which has been hard hit by the loss of manufacturing jobs. Most of the money available today is for job training, not job creation, and Ducharme said. “We need to develop whole industries, not just train people for jobs,” and employment opportunities will follow.

The Delta Institute undertook a major initiative in that area recently by establishing the Green Business Development Center, which offers training and technical assistance to help established and new businesses become more competitive through cost reduction and more efficient use of resources while reducing their environmental impact. “Our goal is to accelerate the transformation to the green economy by helping companies capitalize on opportunities for innovation and competitive advantage.”

Interest is growing in green jobs among professionals eager to contribute what they see as a noble cause, and Ducharme suggested they need to offer more than enthusiasm to potential employers. “It is critical that they have some experience. They have to get involved and prepare themselves with practical experience and training.” To find out more about training and technical assistance for businesses and individuals, visit


Economic Incentives for Indianapolis Businesses
September 30, 2009, 5:58 pm
Filed under: Indianapolis, Resources and Tools

Billions of dollars in neCONTINUE on signw federal stimulus funding is now available for investment in renewable energy production and green building projects.  A summary of some of these new incentives  for energy producers and building owners was provided to workshop attendees and are downloadable here: Incentives 2009-09-28
Highlights include:

  • Incentives for energy producers include tax credits, cash grants in lieu of tax credits, loan guarantees and tax-exempt bond financing through government or other tax-exempt organizations.
  • Indiana Office of Energy grants of up to $100,000 for up to 50% of the cost of renewable energy systems.  Although the deadline for these grants has now passed additional funding is expected by next July at the start of the state’s next fiscal year.
  • City of Indianpolis Green Building  Fund – zero interest loans and grants available for green building projects, subject to award of Energy Efficiency Community Block Grant funding is approved by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Roadmap to the Green Economy for Indianapolis

IN MapOn September 15, The Delta Institute and Sustainindy presented “Tapping into the Emerging Green Economy,” a one-day workshop to promote brownfield redevelopment and lay the groundwork for a Green Economic Development Action Plan for Indianapolis. More than 30 representatives from area businesses, nonprofit support groups, government agencies and service providers attended the session.
The session kicked off with the unveiling of a report developed by Delta Institute under a grant from the USEPA. In addition to defining the green economy and highlighting national green business and job trends, the presentation assessed Indy’s economic assets and competitive advantages, sources of business and political support and other resources. Six significant opportunities were discussed:
1. R & D for Electric Vehicles – A combination of strong academic research and technical capabilities combined with federal goals for hybrid vehicles and stimulus funding for retooling the auto industry is making Indianapolis a strong regional competitor in this area.
2. Manufacturing of Renewable Energy Components – Wind energy has been among the first renewable energy industries to emerge in the Midwest and there are over 250 tons of steel in an average wind turbine. Through informal research, Delta was able to identify more than 1,300 firms in Indiana that may have the potential to manufacture Renewable Energy components.
3. Green Building Products and Services – Green Building has been on a strong upswing throughout the Midwest. As the number of Indianapolis’ green buildings (LEED certified or otherwise) grows, so do jobs in sustainable construction, technical assistance, professional services, green building products and dealers and wholesalers.
4. Waste Reduction, Recycling and Pollution Prevention – Although new energy-related industries are growing rapidly, businesses that help meet other sustainability goals through conservation and pollution mitigation may represent the biggest area of growth…some estimates suggest that these could account for roughly 65% of all clean jobs.
5. Agriculture and Horticulture – Despite harsh winters and short growing seasons, there is an increase in urban and other agricultural enterprises. Many provide transitional job training in landscaping and farming, nutrition and environmental practices.
6. Greening Existing Businesses — Many new jobs are developing to support the greening of the existing business base, which will be critical to maintain the competitiveness of existing businesses in the global economy. Read the full report here:
FINAL IndyGreenEconomyV3091409nonotes
More Information and Resources: A number of agencies and groups at the state and city levels offer helpful information, resources and tools for green economic development and brownfield reuse. Here are some who participated in the workshop and the information they can offer:

Tapping into the Emerging Green Economy

On September 15,  more than 40 people participated in a full-day workshop at which Delta Institute presented it’s Green Economy Roadmap for Indianapolis.  Attendees — share your comments and thoughts about this presentation and/or remarks by other speakers.  If you didn’t attend, review the presentation and let us know what you think. IndyGreenEconomyV3091409nonotes

Quick Guide to Greener Clean Ups
August 13, 2009, 4:01 pm
Filed under: Resources and Tools | Tags: , ,

Have you heard of greener cleanups but been confused about what they are or unsure how they can benefit your brownfield redevelopment project?  Delta is developing a new Quick Guide to Greener Cleanups to provide basic information and easy-to-digest advice for local economic development professionals who don’t want to wade through the technical literature.

The Quick Guide will answer questions like “What is A Greener Cleanup?” and “Why should I care?” It also will provide a summary of how different techniques vary in terms of time, money and environmental benefits. The first edition of the Quick Guide will be geared toward redevelopment in Indiana, and includes state brownfield program information along with a few examples of greener cleanups in Indianapolis.

To get on our list to receive a copy of the Quick Guide and receive  information about Indiana’s Unlocking the Potential of the Green Economy workshop, please email Vanessa Roanhorse at the Delta Institute at For information on how to get a Quick Guide tailored to your state or area, contact Chris Slattery at the Delta Institute at (312) 554-0900 X21 or