Small Business Development Centers and Women’s Business Centers in Vermont, Maine, and New Hampshire will use Manomet’s small business sustainability tool to support their clients.
The Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) and Women’s Business Centers (WBC) are run under the auspices of the U.S. Small Business Administration and are operated with a mix of federal, state and local government funding. The Massachusetts SBDC has shown interest in the project, offered input, and expressed a desire to stay in touch as it moves forward, according to Manomet Program Manager Julie Beane.
The 23 million small businesses in the United States have a significant environmental impact but the sector often lacks the tools and resources to improve sustainability. To help business owners overcome that challenge, Manomet launched the pilot of its Small Business Sustainability Benchmarking Tool. The web-based tool and resource toolkit will allow businesses to measure their financial, social and environmental practices and make improvements over time.
On February 28th, Beane held a workshop in Topsham, Maine, where she gathered input from SBDC and WBC counselors who are participating in the pilot.
“We gathered insights from the SBDC and WBC counselors to ensure that the tool will be useful to them and their small business clients,” Beane said. “We discussed how to maximize the effectiveness of the tool, key features to include on the web platform, and how to best support the counselors and others who will use the tool through training sessions.”
The tool will be broken into categories, including finances and governance, employee relations, community engagement, and environment. After completing the tool, businesses will receive a benchmark sustainability score and suggested resources to help them improve their practices. They will also have the option to receive one-on-one technical assistance from experienced business counselors.
The pilot builds on a web-based sustainability benchmarking tool Manomet launched with Maine Businesses for Sustainability in 2012. The 2012 effort involved more than 200 Maine businesses, and insights from that process are being incorporated into the development of the new tool.
“After we develop the web platform and launch the tool over the next few months, the SBDC and WBC counselors will use it with their clients and provide feedback,” Beane said. “Our goal is to have 400 businesses complete the tool within the first year. We will make continuous refinements to the program and ultimately expand nationally to help small businesses owners across the country improve the financial, social, and environmental viability of their businesses.”
To learn more about the Small Business Sustainability Benchmarking Tool, contact Julie Beane at firstname.lastname@example.org.
– Haley Jordan