In recognition of Earth Day on April 22nd, I wanted to talk to you about conservation and our efforts to create environmental jobs and promote green technology.
Conservation means making sure the limited resources we use to power our homes and car and produce materials are used more responsibly. It means maximizing efficiencies and doing more with less—areas in which minority-owned businesses excel. Thankfully, while we may have a finite amount of coal or oil, our entrepreneurial capacity is infinite. Our transition toward a more sustainable system provides countless opportunities for innovation in green industries.
Green is also the color of money, and what’s good for the environment is good for the economy. Working towards environmental sustainability creates news jobs, new markets, and new industries. Minority-owned businesses can find excellent opportunities retrofitting houses and offices to be more energy efficient, constructing wind turbines, providing green recycling and disposal services, and more.
Additionally, as environmental consciousness continues to grow, the market for green products grows with it. The market for products made of more recycled materials with less waste are booming. Rather than adding cost, producing sustainable goods adds value and protects the environment.
I’m proud to report that the Department of Commerce working to foster the creation of green markets and technologies through the $12 million i6 Green Challenge grant competition . Through this program, the U.S. Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA)  will award up to $1 million to the six teams around the country with the most innovative ideas to drive technology commercialization and entrepreneurship in support of a green innovation economy. EDA expects the challenge to lead to Proof of Concept Centers that will accelerate the launch of new firms, spurring job creation and economic growth here in the United States.
The U.S. Department of Energy is also doing its part to encourage green markets and technologies, and providing opportunities for small businesses in the process. The Department of Energy will be holding their 12th Annual Small Business Conference and Expo  in Kansas City, Missouri, May 10th – 12th. Registration is still open and I encourage you to attend to learn more about government contracting, Department of Energy opportunities, and partnering with other small business owners to tackle environmental issues and more.
Protecting the environment is our shared responsibility and it is one that the business community—particularly the minority business community—can contribute considerably to. Entrepreneurs are always developing new materials, finding new ways to use old materials, and engineering more efficient technologies. The Department of Commerce and agencies like MBDA and EDA can help by fostering innovation and creating a space for green products and services to grow and flourish. By working together today we can help win tomorrow, for ourselves and our children.