Cleveland, May 15, 2013 – While clean energy progress remains slow at the national level, the Council of Smaller Enterprises (COSE), the small business arm of the Greater Cleveland Partnership, has emerged as one of the top local chambers in the country driving economic development around energy efficiency, according to a first-of-its-kind report released today by Chambers for Innovation and Clean Energy (CICE). With ten in-depth case studies of chambers located throughout the country, Local Chambers as Change Agents: Creating Economic Vitality through Clean Energy and Innovation provides the first comprehensive look into the role of COSE and other local chambers in attracting investment, supporting business growth, and diversifying their local economies around clean energy and energy efficiency.
“For more than 15 years, COSE has driven energy savings for the Cleveland business community, proving that energy efficiency is a smart business choice” said Nicole Stika, Senior Director of Energy Services at the Council of Smaller Enterprises. “From helping Cleveland businesses negotiate lower electric and natural gas rates, to saving our member companies millions of dollars through efficiency upgrades, we are making Cleveland stronger and more competitive. It is an honor to be recognized as one of America’s leading chambers on energy efficiency.”
As highlighted in the new report, COSE hosts the largest and most comprehensive chamber-led energy efficiency program in the country. COSE developed an innovative network of Ohio businesses to perform energy assessments and make building upgrades, in areas including lighting, insulation, and HVAC. More than 150 small businesses have benefited from these COSE-led energy assessments, saving on energy costs, achieving budget certainty, reducing energy demand, and becoming more sustainable. In 2012 alone, COSE helped businesses capture more than $13.4 million in savings through energy efficiency projects and rebates. This summer, COSE plans to announce its own energy efficiency loan program with a loan guarantee, making it easier for businesses to obtain financing for retrofits. COSE is also looking to expand its energy assessments across the state, increasing efficiency throughout Ohio.
“Energy efficiency is the least expensive and quickest way to address our country’s growing energy need,” said Diane Doucette, Executive Director of Chambers for Innovation and Clean Energy. “COSE’s innovative leadership in the energy efficiency space is an excellent model for other chambers looking to help their local companies save money by using less energy.”
Based on surveys of hundreds of local chambers of commerce, CICE’s report highlights ten chambers in Ohio, North Carolina, South Carolina, Illinois, Texas, Utah, Tennessee, Michigan, Massachusetts, and California. By catalyzing clean energy projects in their own communities and convening stakeholders— including policymakers, regulators, entrepreneurs, investors, academics, and labor groups—around clean energy efforts, these chambers are spurring new business opportunities for local companies and giving their member businesses a voice in policy discussions around clean energy and energy efficiency.
The other nine chambers profiled in depth in the new report include:
NORTH CAROLINA: Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce
Recognizing that its local manufacturers were paying to transport empty shipping containers back to Asheville, the Asheville Area Chamber established the Western North Carolina Transportation Alliance, an innovative statewide network of companies to coordinate transportation and shipping routes. This network has already helped save businesses more than 44,000 gallons of fuel in 2011 alone.
SOUTH CAROLINA: North Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce
In this coastal tourist town, the North Myrtle Beach Chamber championed a project to transform its community into a wind energy demonstration site. Thanks to the Chamber’s efforts, South Carolina installed its first grid-connected wind turbine in 2010. Now, small test turbines dot the beachfront, creating a future test bed for entrepreneurs and sharing data to help train local engineering students.
TEXAS: Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce
Within one of the largest oil and natural gas producing states in the nation, the Greater Austin Chamber has become a clean-tech recruiting powerhouse. Leveraging its close ties to the University of Texas at Austin and the city’s municipally owned utility, the Chamber recruited 20 clean-tech companies to date, and co-founded Pecan Street Inc., a cutting-edge demonstration site for smart-grid entrepreneurs.
MASSACHUSETTS: Merrimack Valley Chamber of Commerce
The Merrimack Valley Chamber partnered with Nexamp, a local clean-energy solutions provider, to help 46 companies in Northeast Massachusetts save more than $30 million collectively over the next 30 years through energy efficiency and on-site renewable energy generation. The Chamber’s Clean Energy Program helped spark the largest solar projects in both Haverhill and Lawrence, Massachusetts.
UTAH: Salt Lake Chamber
With Salt Lake City’s poor air quality hurting business attraction and retention, the Salt Lake Chamber worked with local companies to cut fuel use and boost their bottom lines. The Salt Lake Chamber’s Clean Air Champions program has already resulted in millions of dollars in savings for local companies, including UPS, which has saved more than 10 million gallons of fuel since 2004, and the mining company Rio Tinto, which saves an average of $1.65 million per year with its new no-idling policy for trucks.
ILLINOIS: Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce
For years, failures in Chicago’s outdated electric grid have been devastating to businesses, including big energy users like Groupon and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. The Chicagoland Chamber led a broad coalition to advocate for smart grid legislation in Illinois, putting the state and its electric grid on the path to meet the growing energy needs of Chicago businesses.
TENNESEE: Bartlett Area Chamber of Commerce
Headed by a former Marine, the Bartlett Chamber’s Team Green Zone is on a mission to help member companies cut their energy use and save money. This innovative network brings in revenue for the chamber by performing energy benchmarks and assessments, developing efficiency action plans, and helping businesses implement upgrades. In only two years, Team Green Zone has already helped 43 companies benchmark their energy use and implement efficiency projects valued at $5.5 million.
MICHIGAN: Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce
Known for its advanced manufacturing, Flint, Michigan is home to a new chamber-led network that is driving economic development and the supply and demand for innovative energy solutions. The E3 innovation Network helps all stakeholders interested in energy savings—from fleet-holders with large energy demands to clean-tech innovators—network to find new business opportunities. To spur electric vehicle demand and support local manufacturers within EV supply chains, the Chamber also partnered with a statewide coalition to study Michigan’s EV infrastructure needs. Genesee County welcomed the nation’s first solar-powered charging station for the Chevy Volt in June 2011.
CALIFORNIA: San Francisco Chamber of Commerce
With long travel times presenting a challenge for fast-moving businesses in the San Francisco Bay Area, the SF Chamber led business advocacy efforts for statewide high-speed rail, which passed through a California ballot measure in 2008. High-speed rail will allow commuters from the Central Valley and Sacramento to more easily access workplaces in San Francisco, and will boost economic activity from tourism as travel times decrease. The SF Chamber brought other local chambers on board, helped shape high-speed rail planning routes, and educated policymakers and the public on the economic benefits of high-speed rail.
CICE’s report, Local Chambers as Change Agents, is available here: http://www.chambersforinnovation.com/changeagents/
About COSE: The Council of Smaller Enterprises (COSE) is Ohio’s largest small business support organization, striving to help small business owners achieve their idea of success. Comprised of more than 14,000 member companies, COSE has a rich history and strong legacy spanning 40 years of advocating for and meeting the needs of small business owners. The collective voice of the membership base allows COSE to provide advocacy on legislative and regulatory issues, a robust infrastructure for peer to peer entrepreneurial support and education and cost-effective group purchasing for health care, workers’ compensation, energy programs and a variety of other business needs. (www.cose.org)
About Chambers for Innovation and Clean Energy: Chambers for Innovation and Clean Energy (CICE) is a national clean energy network and information hub for local chambers of commerce. Created and led by local chambers, CICE helps fellow chambers and their member companies successfully navigate and prosper in the clean energy space. CICE provides access to clean energy information, best practices, energy experts, incentives, and business opportunities. CICE’s Advisory Council includes Chamber CEOs from every region of the country. Visit CICE at www.chambersforinnovation.com.