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"Green"....the next shot in the arm for Louisville's economy

GE_Front-load_Laundry.jpg

Source: GE Consumr & Industrial

While world leaders meet at the United Nations conference on climate change in Copenhagen to debate 'green' standards for the coming decades, business sees this as a huge economic opportunity and will continue to push the agenda forward. The impact of current greenhouse gas and emissions standards is already having a significant economic impact on many communities, such as Louisville, KY.

Earlier this week, GE Consumer and Industrial reported the additional investment of more than $80 million in the 1st half of 2010 to design and manufacture new energy efficient front load washers and dryers at GE's Appliance Park in Louisville. (See Courier Journal article.)  That's on top of $69 million committed last summer to manufacture new energy efficient water heaters. These investments will add 830 jobs to Louisville's local economy.

Significant investment in new green technology development and manufacturing are essential for the United States to lead in the new global economy. Our country cannot afford to fall behind. We must push our legislators to maintain a regulatory environment that encourages businesses to invest.

Businesses must also be smart about how they invest in new products. Products must still offer a strong value proposition. For products to be successful and command a competitive advantage, consumers and businesses require products to not only meet their needs basic needs, but also exceed their expectations in performance and quality. Even though the 'green bandwagon' is growing, careful product development is just as important as ever.

Here are some important product development tips to keep in mind:
Do your homework:
Use research and in-home visits to understand your market and their needs. Who is our target? What are their needs and expectations? What's most important to them? What unmet needs give us an opportunity to lead?

Include your findings in the product development process:
Use tools such as a QFD (Quality Function Deployment) to generate ideas. What new products, features, technologies can we use to meet customer needs? How can we exceed expectations? Which possible solutions best meet customer requirements?

Get direct consumer feedback on your ideas:
Let consumers use product prototypes to get direct feedback. How easy is the product to use? How well does the product work? Does the product meet / exceed expectations?   Continue this cycle and use the feedback in an iterative product development process until you know you've got it right.

Companies can take advantage of many opportunities in this new economy right now. Just because 'green' looks like a big 'pot-of-gold', don't get too excited. Remember to maintain smart business practices to ensure your success!

For more info:
Courier Journal article on GE's announcement, December 14, 2009
USA Today article: Obama calls for swift action on climate change, December 18, 2009
By Vivian Hairston Blade - visit my website by clicking HERE!

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