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St. Scholastica to establish eco-industial initiative
St. Scholastica

DULUTH– The College of St. Scholastica has received a $50,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to establish an eco-industrial development initiative in collaboration with state and local governments, business and individuals.

St. Scholastica is partnering with the cities of Duluth and Superior and the Minnesota Office of Environmental Assistance (MOEA) to establish a region-wide effort to develop environmentally friendly industry. The Knight Foundation grant, which will be administered by St. Scholastica on behalf of the community, will provide seed funds to the effort called the Duluth-Superior Area Eco-industrial Development Initiative.

The initiative “is intended to transverse boundaries and really pool resources,” said Ralph Loomis, who chairs the Eco-industrial Development Committee. He holds the Sandbulte Chair in Management and Ethics at St. Scholastica. “It makes good business sense to be ecologically resourceful. When synergistic businesses are located together, instead of duplicating resources, they can share them in ways that range from support services to energy usage to daycare and other amenities.”

The effort will include St. Scholastica student internships involving six teams from different departments such as science, economics and communications, with plans to develop a class next fall in the area of eco-industrial development. A number of St. Scholastica faculty members will be involved with the student internship program as well as with more formal classes.

“Students in the future are going to need to be able to take on these complex problems,” said Tim Nolan of the MOEA, who also will work directly with student interns. “This effort is breaking new ground academically as well as in exploring issues and practical applications – economic, social and environmental – of sustainable industrial development.”

According to Nolan, eco-industrial development is an emerging trend globally. One of his agency’s strategic priorities is to advance EID projects; however, while discussions and presentations have taken place statewide, no one had begun an initiative until the Duluth effort. Nolan’s involvement is on behalf of the entire state and will enable him to construct templates and models for other areas to recreate what is being done in Duluth.

“We’d like to brand ourselves as an eco-friendly region in attracting businesses that have an eco basis or use resources in a new way,” said Loomis. “The advantages are not just social and environmental, they’re economic.”

Business North .com