Changemakers Series: Energize Clinton County (ECC)

energize-clinton-countyChangemakers:  A series for Social Enterprise about young changemakers who are creating innovative new social businesses to tackle global problems at home and abroad.

Marcia Stepanek, my fellow social enterprise blogger and editor began a series on influential social entrepreneurs within the industry.  In a collaborative effort, she and I will be tag teaming with this occasional series.  Right now, I'm it!

I chose to highlight Energize Clinton County (ECC), a grassroots movement and community center for sustainable economic development.  One of ECC's major endeavors consisted of creating America's first Green Enterprise Zone, which on July 16, 2009 became a reality when Wilmington, Ohio became the first recognized Green Enterprise Zone in the country.

Spearheaded by Mark Rembert and Taylor Stuckert, Energize Clinton County saw its creation after shipping giant DHL left their hometown of Wilmington, OH. Faced with a community upheaval as a result of this employer leaving, Stuckert and Rembert seized on the moment to reinvent Wilmington as the country's first green enterprise zone.  The two had been away from their hometown of Wilmington for several years, but upon learning of the economic crisis decided that dedicating themselves to saving Wilmington from collapse was not only the right thing for their hometown, but also their country.

Mark Rembert, a graduate of Haverford College with a BA in economics, worked and lived in Pennsylvania for a start-up public relations firm and turned down a peace corp tour in Ecuador to return to Wilmington and further his work with Energize Clinton County.  His partner Taylor Stuckert graduated from Butler University with a degree in Philosophy.  He completed a Peace Corp service mission in Bolivia but also turned down an additional volunteer mission in Ecuador to work with ECC.  Thier hope was to "turn Wilmington from the poster child for economic decline into a poster child for green recovery."

As noted on their website- this movement began with a few letters to the editor and soon blossomed into a public policy, networking and social entrepreneur hub.  The two entrepreneurs note that "through Energize Clinton County, the job loss crisis has been transformed into a breeding ground for the development of new technologies and strategies that will certainly lead America's economy through the 21st century."  It is the belief of ECC that within the current economic climate- the green economy is now poised to spur development across the country and create endless job opportunities.

Leading this movement is the previously mentioned Wilmington Green Enterprise Zone.  A program that offers incentives for green and eco friendly investment and development.  Some of the facilitating initiatives include:

  • developing an inventory of local assets as they relate to the green economy.
  • offering incentives for the investment in energy efficient retrofits, advanced energy technologies, and green collar jobs.
  • Making use of local policy tools to stimulate green investments, while providing support to efforts seeking to obtain state and federal incentives.
  • Indentifying opportunities for workforce retention that meet the needs of green businesses.

Rembert and Stuckert began working with city officials to draft legislation establishing the Green Zone in 2008 and as previously mentioned on July 16, 2009 the Wilmington city council unanamously voted to establish the Wilmington Green Enterprise Zone- the first of its kind in the country.

In 2009, Energize Clinton County also became a PopTech fellow.  Poptech fellows are young leaders with extraordinary potential that possess new approaches towards social change.  The fellowship program is designed to help facilitate change around the world.  Each year PopTech selects 10-20 high potential changemakers who are working in areas such as healthcare, energy, development, climate change, education, and civic engagement to name a few.

Let's give a round of applause for Mark Rembert and Taylor Stuckert for their efforts- they are definitely initiating change for the green industry.

As always, let me know what you think.

Photo courtesy: PopTech