Forum touts sustainable business

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Wednesday marked the second town hall sustainability forum, "Communities Working Together for Sustainability," held in Sheldon Ballroom from 6:30 – 9 p.m.

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The town hall style meeting brought together members from businesses throughout the Oswego County regional area in order to figure out common environmental issues and supported projects.

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Nancy Bellow, executive director of Oswego State office of business and community relations, began the forum by emphasizing the importance of working together.

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"There is an increasing need for communities to collaborate and strengthen relationships across the region," Bellow said.

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The keynote speaker, Peter Bardaglio, a senior fellow at Second Nature Inc. in Ithaca, has done extensive work with Tompkins County in terms of sustainable development.

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Bardaglio spoke about the importance of shaping businesses toward a new economy, one that is a "creative, knowledgable economy," because it’s what he feels the economy of the future is going to look like.

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Tompkins County has developed a community program called Tompkins County Climate Protection Initiative (TCCPI) that deals directly with using intellectual capital over financial capital. This means that they are researching how to be as competent as possible in energy costs, production and overall efficiency.

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Pertaining to Oswego, Bardaglio spoke about how the community organized the coalition to address the issues of the county through several different steps that help communities effectively develop business plans to change the landscape of the economy in that area.

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Bardaglio said the key to new businesses coming into these communities is to have "creativity and innovation of the energy front and to have ways to keep costs down."

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"The business of the future is sustainability," he said. "The communities that embrace this will be the ones that grow and prosper."

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Following Bardaglio’s speech, several representatives of Central New York, Oswego County, the city of Oswego and Oswego State spoke about how these areas are working in the direction of the TCCPI. David Bottar, the executive director of the Central New York Regional Planning and Development Board, spoke about energy planning and the need to develop comprehensive plans.

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Phillip Church, a county administrator from Oswego County, talked about waste management through incinerating and recycling trash, a "Green Team" sustainability committee, and using water for heating and cooling in the area.

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The next speaker, Mary Vanouse, director of the city of Oswego community development office, talked about how the short-term and long-term objectives the city has to become more sustainable and efficient.

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Jerry DeSantis, Oswego State sustainability coordinator, spoke about the "tremendous need for [the community] to better collaborate" in terms of cutting back huge areas of carbon dioxide-producing assets.

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After the speeches were finished, each table worked together to come up with ideas to make the community more sustainable. The main issues addressed focused around a collaborative effort of the community to work across different groups, all in the effort for better efficiency and less impact.

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Several groups said that community engagement and education are key in the effort. Other groups stressed sharing resources and skills across the town lines. Another topic brought up called for better awareness of energy conservation.

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The night ended with a lot of the audience ready to work together. John Moore, the engineering coordinator at Oswego State, said, "there needs to be a better way for faculty, staff and students to collaborate on green initiatives on a regular business. "We need a better way to focus our efforts."