The Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia (SBN) is a leader in the creation and integration of entrepreneurial and sustainable business practices, and in establishing new models for business operations that value people, planet and prosperity for all. Surdna is investing in SBN's work to deepen the impact of the Philadelphia Water Department’s $2 billion investment in "green infrastructure," which is an approach to stormwater management that utilizes a range of "soil-water-plant systems that intercept stormwater, infiltrate a portion of it into the ground, evaporate a portion of it into the air, and in some cases release a portion of it slowly back into the sewer system."
SBN’s goal is to capture the local economic impact and job creation potential of green infrastructure investments by growing the capacity of local companies and the local workforce to meet the coming demand for green infrastructure products and services. Without an entity like SBN working to make connections among the public workforce system, policy makers, the local business community, and market demand efforts, City contracts for green infrastructure work - from design to installation and maintenance - might be awarded to large firms from out-of-state. The result of such a scenario? Philadelphia would miss out on the economic multiplier effect that results when contracts are awarded to local firms who create local jobs.
Fortunately, SBN has a two-pronged strategy to capture the local economic multiplier effect. First, SBN will continue its work with Business United for Conservation (BUC), which identifies and addresses barriers to clean industry growth, workforce needs, business-to-business procurement opportunities, industry best practices, and technology trends. BUC was formed in response to a report released by SBN and the Philadelphia Green Economy Task Force entitled, “Gray to Green: Jumpstarting Private Investment in Green Stormwater Infrastructure.” BUC subsequently released, “Capturing the Storm: Profits, Jobs, and Training in Philadelphia’s Stormwater Industry,” a report that provides insights into the barriers that regional companies providing stormwater management services face. The work ahead addresses both the challenges and opportunities presented in the emerging green infrastructure industry.
Second, SBN will strengthen and test for potential replication its Local Community of Practice (CoP) for Green Infrastructure. SBN facilitates this peer-mentoring program, which is comprised of 14- 20 local business owners with green infrastructure interests. The cohort comes together to hone their business strategies, learn key skills to advance their leadership regionally, and form close, collaborative relationships. The goals are to expand and support their individual and collective work, build more resilient and innovative triple bottom line businesses, create jobs, and strengthen the green infrastructure industry in service of Philadelphia's local economy.
SBN is also a founding member of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE), the fastest growing business network of values aligned entrepreneurs, business networks, and local economy funders in North America. SBN's green infrastructure CoP results will be shared within the BALLE community and beyond.
SBN's efforts make it a leader in the Sustainable Environments Program "Next Generation Infrastructure" grant portfolio, as well as in the Strong Local Economies Program "Equitable Economic Development" grant portfolio.
Fostering sustainable communities in the United States — communities guided by principles of social justice and distinguished by healthy environments, strong local economies, and thriving cultures.