LC Bulletin: A green chamber in Las Cruces?

November 27, 2009. Retrieved online December 1, 2009 from Gabriel Vasquez, Las Cruces Bulletin

Group wants to bridge gap between profit and sustainability

Been thinking about ways to make your business green? Elisa Cundiff and the folks at the newly formed Green Chamber of Commerce may be able to help.

Cundiff and a group of nine other businesspersons have been working for two months to create the newest business advocacy organization in Las Cruces, one whose focus is on the triple bottom line: profit, people and planet, she said.

“There are a growing number of emerging businesspeople who feel either a responsibility or an economic interest in making more ‘green-friendly’ decisions,” said Cundiff, a New York University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in political science. “These are people who are open to innovative ideas, and who realize that community and environmental projects won’t break their business.”

Cundiff said thus far, more than 200 local businesses have displayed interest in joining the new chamber, which for now, is free.

“We’ve had a huge response so far from a divergent group of businesses,” she said. “We’ve got real estate agents on board, builders, restaurants – everything from tattoo parlors to herb shops. At this point there is no cost to join, but eventually we will be selling advertising to our membership and probably include some dues and fees.”

Cundiff, who works as a salesperson for her brother’s company, Energy Concepts, and online money management company Just Thrive, said the idea for the Green Chamber of Commerce came about after special interest groups in Las Cruces began to divide the business community.

“We know there are many business owners who feel confused and alienated by the green movement, and we intend to be an inclusive organization, to help smooth over artificial divisive lines between sustainability and profitability,”she said.

One of the green chamber’s main focus will be on shopping local, and creating advertising and marketing campaigns to drive people to local stores and products, which will also meet the chamber’s goal of being green by reducing CO2 emissions that would be emitted by vehicles traveling to larger metro areas to shop such as El Paso and Albuquerque.

“There are a lot of small things like this that align our goal with local businesses,” she said. “We also want to draw attention to local businesses who are sustainably minded.”

The green chamber, which for now, is made up of a small group of businesspersons with no hierarchy of governance, is working with the New Mexico State University student group OASIS, or Organic Agriculture Students Inspiring Sustainability, to create a roadmap that includes “sustainable-friendly” businesses along with green features such as bike and walking paths and green areas of interest around Las Cruces.

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