November 17, 2000

Universities Join to Teach Eco-Industry

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Cornell University and the University of Southern California (USC) will use a $175,000 federal grant to teach businesses around the nation about the benefits of eco-industry, a new approach that helps industries become more environmentally friendly.

The money will go towards creating a new National Center for Eco-Industrial Development, a program that facilitates job growth and industrial expansion while helping the environment.

“Eco-industry is focused on connecting businesses together to work with the community to create jobs and make a healthier environment,” said Edward Cohen-Rosenthal, director of Cornell’s Work and Environment Initiative (WEI) and co-director of the National Center for Eco-Industrial Development.

Eco-industry, pioneered through WEI and also through USC’s Center for Economic Development, researches ways to make companies produce less waste. This often involves linking companies when one’s by-product can function as a resource or production input for another. For example, Firestone gave its recently recalled tires to help pave new highways.

Many of these businesses that are beneficiaries of eco-industrial development are located in economically distressed communities, Cohen-Rosenthal said.

“The national Center for Eco-Industrial Development will help both urban and rural areas attract new industry and jobs while protecting the environment,” said Arthur C. Campbell, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development, in announcing the grant.

The grant, awarded jointly by the Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, also serves to recognize the efforts and progress made in eco-industrial development, Cohen-Rosenthal noted.

“This is recognition for not just [eco-industrial research],” he said, “but also for success of what has happened at the grassroots businesses [level] and to people who say there are better ways to bring businesses and the environment together.”

One former eco-industrial researcher believes any money spent on eco-industrial development is a wise investment:

“It makes dollars and cents sense,” John Barney M.S. ’00 said. “For all the money you spend on eco-industry, you get more money back.”

Archived article by Peter Lin