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Michiana Greentown 2.0

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In April the second sustainability conference in 12 months, Michiana GreenTown, was hosted in South Bend, IN. (See Michiana 2.0). That event was followed by Chicago GreenTown the following month. These events emphasize opportunities in green and sustainability industries for the Michiana region.

The Michiana event included a broad range of informative topics. The stage was set by Krista Bailey, Assistant Director, IU South Bend Center for a Sustainable Future, John Harris, Principal, a5 and Gary Cuneen, Executive Director, Seven Generations Ahead. Mark Neal, Deputy Mayor, City of South Bend welcomed the audience of hundreds of interested citizens.

Scott Ford, Executive Director, Department of Community Investment, City of South Bend shared information about Smart Streets in South Bend: Making Streets Work for All Modes of Transit. He explained that last October, South Bend’s common council passed a budget to convert downtown one-way streets into two-way streets in an effort to make downtown South Bend more transit friendly. Since then, the City of South Bend has adopted a “Complete Streets” policy, which advocates for the design of streets to enable safe access for all users including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit riders of all ages and abilities. Mr Ford provided the latest information about South Bend’s new initiatives including street revitalization projects and corridor master plans and how these initiatives can impact the larger Michiana region.

For the panel “Creating a Sustainable Region: How Communities Can Work Together” Moderator John Houseal, Principal and Cofounder, Houseal Lavigne Associates facilitated a discussion with panelists Dr. Haris Alibasic, Office of Energy and Sustainability Director, City of Grand Rapids; J.B. Hoyt, Michigan’s Great Southwest Sustainable Business Forum; Allan Kauffman, Mayor, City of Goshen and Ty Warner, Executive Director, NIRC. They discussed how from Northwest Indiana to Michiana to West Michigan, communities can come together to enact measurable, sustainable change both regionally and locally. See the regional Plan.

Other panels discussed topics included Energy Efficiency to Renewable Energy: Public and Private Sector Successes and Opportunities; Stormwater Management: Revitalizing Neighborhoods through Green Infrastructure and Creating a Diverse Business Community. Panelist Donna Smith Bellinger said the following of the event:

"The Green Town event was informative and inspiring. Each project discussed was an adventure of possibilities that are moving off the drawing board.

In future events, I would love to see apprenticeships to train on maintaining and expanding these wonderful projects. Since our schools fall so short in job readiness programs, hands on skills would go a long way toward creating more community support and involvement. The people are the movement. This is a matter of personal, professional, community and business development.

Effective communication is a key component to preparing existing businesses for the conversations of creating the joint ventures that will bring them to the table of new opportunities. This is a new experience for some who may not realize how much they have to offer. Opportunities such as Green Town are the springboard for growth and fertile ground for creating revenue generating relationships. This also will have a learning curve. In keynotes, as well as my work with corporations and community organizations such as the Chicago Urban League I have presented seminars and workshops directed to connecting (You Lost Me @ Hello), innovation (Unleashing Your Hidden Genius) and leadership (Stop Delegating Disaster in Business & In Life)"

The key for Michiana businesses is how they leverage the momentum. Michiana Goodwill Industries launched its recycled granite business. Borkholder Building and Supply is moving forward with projects developing their New Energy Homes. The future for Michiana in this industry is what we choose to make it.

Donna Smith Bellinger "The Advancement Strategist"
Entrepreneur, Author, Development Coach and Radio Personality
From the C Suite to Kitchen Table CEO’s (KTC), Advancement Strategist Donna Smith Bellinger has successfully inspired, coached, mentored and trained hundreds to raise their visibility, laser focus their goals and create a more profitable and productive lifestyle, by improving the process of communication, leadership, strategic thinking and team work. Donna offers group, private and corporate programs as well as keynotes, workshops and seminars
Donna was mentioned in Essence magazine (March 2014) for her current book "You Lost Me @ Hello")
As a sought after subject matter expert Donna has been seen in NBC5 (Chicago) INK Well business Blog, SpeakIT News and numerous radio programs, and corporate events.

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