First Solar, a leading member of the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce, broke ground this month on a project expected to become what has been described as “the largest solar factory, by capacity, in the Western Hemisphere.”
When Ann Silver took over the Reno-Sparks Chamber of Commerce a year ago, she quickly identified a challenge that many local chamber leaders face: She calls it the “cannibalizing of the chamber brand.”
There was a rise in new professional groups that presented competition for members, and, in her view, a need to take a fresh look at the question: What value proposition does a local chamber of commerce offer its members?
“It is really exciting to be on the cutting edge of renewable energy and to be involved with Apex [Clean Energy.]” That’s what Botetourt County Chamber of Commerce Board President Peter Pearl recently said about a proposed wind farm that is planned as Virginia’s first onshore wind farm.
When Amazon announced last month that it would build a second wind farm in northwest Ohio, Jon Cross, president and CEO of the Hardin County Chamber & Business Alliance and Director of Economic Development, eloquently put the opportunity in perspective:
"Big projects don’t “always have to happen in big cities,” Cross said. “They can happen in small communities like ours, courthouse communities that are an important engine of Ohio’s economy.”
Ask Peggy Emerson, Executive Director of the Paulding Chamber of Commerce, what she thinks of the new Amazon wind farm going up in her county, and she’ll tell you:
“Paulding Chamber of Commerce is thrilled to celebrate all of the renewable energy projects that we have going on. These are great ways for us to develop the economic benefits locally, and not only in our county, but the counties around us as well.”
Want to know which chambers of commerce led the way in driving the economic development benefits of clean energy in 2015?
They spanned the nation—from Massachusetts, North Carolina, and Florida to Ohio, Kansas, Michigan and Utah and many other states—in their support of important projects, policies, and programs. Here are some of our favorites.
More than 10 local chambers of commerce in Massachusetts are partnering with EnergySage Inc. to offer their member businesses an innovative and user-friendly online solar marketplace to shop for solar power. For chambers, this is a new non-dues revenue program, with chambers receiving donations when their member companies install solar.
Alevo, a Swiss Energy Service Provider, purchased a former Philip Morris complex and plans to invest $1 billion to produce an innovative new battery technology that could prove a game-changer for the utility industry.
The Charleston Area Alliance, an economic development giant that includes the Charleston Regional Chamber of Commerce, is promoting a vision for 2030 that predicts the region will be nationally recognized for “developing and commercializing innovative energy technologies.”
COSE is taking another great leap forward in helping local businesses maximize the economic development opportunities of energy efficiency. In collaboration with the Institute for Market Transformation and Cleveland 2030, COSE has introduced a novel leasing program that increases smart commercial lease solutions for building owners and tenants to invest in—and benefit from—energy efficiency in the City of Cleveland.
The Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the nonprofit Michigan Saves, is offering zero percent loans to companies that want to invest in energy efficiency.
“Reducing energy waste is among the fastest ways for a business to add money to its bottom line,” said Tim Daman, President and CEO of the Lansing Chamber. “And you cannot beat zero percent financing!”
The Caro Chamber of Commerce says that its hometown of Caro, Michigan, has a “Norman Rockwell feel with modern amenities.” Among some of the most modern of those amenities are the turbines from nearby wind farms that are steadily transforming the region.
Several chambers of commerce recently discovered that identifying smart grid clusters can help chambers recruit more companies to their region. Research-Triangle based chambers in Raleigh, Morrisville and Wake Forest worked with a local economic development agency to evaluate their local economic assets and identify regional trends.