In early May of each year, America's small businesses are
recognized by the U.S. Small Business Administration during Small
Business Week activities for contributions, and rightfully so.
As a small business owner and the author of this column, I always
enjoy learning about the new and exciting innovations and successes
of small businesses.
Byron Kennard, executive director of The Center for Small
Business and the Environment, recently shared with me the successes
of several "Green Gazelles," small businesses that make a profit
doing environmental good. The CSBE, a nonpartisan/nonprofit
organization, works to promote small businesses and entrepreneurs
that are succeeding by developing and using new technologies and
processes to dramatically increase efficiency and resource
productivity and exploiting lucrative opportunities in environmental
protection, pollution prevention, energy and materials efficiency
and resource conservation.
You may question whether there is a market for these Green
A recent study conducted by the Center for Women's Business
Research shows that more than 75 percent of women business owners
feel that the environmental friendliness of a product is either a
moderate or major influence on their purchase decisions. Similarly,
77 percent of working women said that environmental friendliness is
either a major or moderate influence on their products.
Factor this information with the fact that women business owners
are the fastest-growing segment and that women are 52 percent of the
population and there is definitely a market for environmentally
friendly products and services.
The story of A.C. Wilson gives hope to the thought that small
businesses can help save the planet.
The Knoxville, Tenn., entrepreneur has invented a device that
allows long-haul truck drivers to heat and cool their cabs when they
stop to rest without having to keep their engines running.
Federal law requires truck drivers to rest for eight hours for
every 10 hours they drive, so they pull into a truck stop and run
their engines to heat or cool their cabins as needed. Drivers often
complain that the noise and fumes from the idling engines makes it
difficult to sleep. Not to mention the effect this practice has on
Wilson's company, IdleAire Technologies Corp., has its individual
heat and air units above parking spaces at truck stops. These units
are powered by electricity. A tube attaches these units to a console
that allows drivers to turn off their engines and still adjust
interior temperatures, providing a safer, quieter sleep environment.
The units also allow access to cable TV and the Internet. …