Ideally, we want to create economic development that is—simultaneously—profitable, environmentally sustainable, and beneficial to its community.
Easy to say. Tough to do.
In my view, one of the biggest mistakes we make is thinking we have to choose between profit and the environment.
No environmental initiative is sustainable if we can’t figure out how to pay for it—and not just pay to start it. To be truly sustainable, we need to figure out how to pay for an environmental initiative forever.
And no business or project is truly profitable if it creates environmental harms that its profits can’t cover. If something is generating profits now but, eventually, will have a clean-up bill it can’t absorb, those profits are an illusion. All that’s happening is inter-generational theft. With very rare exceptions, every businessperson I know wants to build and manage a business that can be profitable forever, that does not create a harm which someone else will eventually have to clean up.
Finding and nurturing economic development in our region that meets these multiple goals isn’t easy, but it can be done.
Over the next few months, I’m hoping to work on outlining a few examples and principles that might achieve these goals.