The Rapidian

Local First works to inspire, build relationships with upcoming event

Local First will host their 5th annual Sustainable Business Conference on March 27. Speakers from Brewery Vivant and Founders open the conference; keynote speaker is Vice President of King Arthur Flour.
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Learn more about the conference

See the full line of speakers, schedule, and get tickets on the Local First website.

/courtesy of Local First

Local First is gearing up for its 5th Annual Sustainable Business Conference on March 27 at Aquinas College. The Sustainable Business Conference gathers local businesses to share and discuss effective ways to achieve triple bottom line policies focused on people, places and profit. The conference is meant to inspire and instill a vision of what a sustainable business looks like.  

“The conference is a place to get energized about moving our community and its amazing array of locally owned businesses towards greater sustainability in people, place and profit," says Seth Galligan, Communications Coordinator at Local First.

“This conference is for anyone who wants to be connected with the sustainable business movement and wants to build a network of relationships with the leaders and innovators,” he says.  

“What a community with sustainability at its core needs more than anything else is strong relationships. Relationships are what hold people together. This conference is a chance to make those relationships and to make existing relationships stronger. There is no better way to do this than to be together in the flesh,” says Galligan.

Kris Spaulding, Sustainability Director and Owner at Brewery Vivant, was asked to open up the conference by speaking about engaging employees in sustainability. She emphasizes the benefits of the conference.

“I went last year and thought it was awesome,” says Spaulding. “The keynote speakers are fantastic people. [I appreciate] hearing stories about businesses that do way more than they have to –the story behind them, what inspires them and what keeps them going. I always get so much out of that.”

“You get this inspiration out of it and you learn a lot and you can use that to help you foresee what your future could look like. I think there are a lot of good reasons to go,” says Spaulding.  “It’s a good audience to be a part of.”

Paul Kehoe is the Marketing, Development, Social Media and Fundraising Director at Comprenew, a recycling organization focused on keeping electronics and toxic waste out of landfills.

“Comprenew has been an enthusiastic Local First member for many years,” says Kehoe. “This annual conference is an important way to network about best practices that focus on sustainability.”

“Comprenew’s mission places a high value on sustainable practices and as an environmental organization with a social impact, we live the triple bottom line of sustainability here,” says Kehoe.

An additional factor in achieving sustainable business practices is the idea of unifying employees.

“We do a training with our staff that everyone has to go through about what does sustainability means to Vivant. Everyone has a different impression of what it means,” says Spaulding.

“We want to be financially sustainable but we also to have a positive environmental impact and make sure we’re being considerate of social equity. [We are deliberate that] the decisions we make now are not going to negatively impact generations in the future,” says Spaulding.

“Being around so many of the most inspiring people in Grand Rapids and hearing from our excellent keynote speaker is going to be enough to get everyone in attendance energized and ready to go out and make positive change happen wherever they do their work,” says Galligan. 

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