Welcome to Our Shade of “Green”
Lawrence Rael, President
NM Green Chamber of Commerce
Thank you for the opportunity to welcome you to this issue of the Green Fire Times, focused on the New Mexico Green Chamber of Commerce’s work and its members. We are thrilled to work with GFT to deliver our message to its informed readers.
The New Mexico Green Chamber of Commerce (NMGCC) was officially incorporated in March, 2010, and its first chapter was started the same year in Las Cruces. Since that time we have steadily grown in membership and chapters around the state. We now have five chapters – Albuquerque/Río Rancho, Las Cruces, Santa Fe, Silver City and Taos. We also have 10 members on the board of directors, who represent a variety of small businesses around New Mexico. The board, through our CEO and staff, directs activities for the Green Chamber of Commerce and ensures we bring value to our members through our work.
We are the largest statewide chamber in New Mexico, with over 1,100 members statewide. Many of our members find membership in the NMGCC to be particularly valuable to their business operations— whether through networking opportunities that expand their market or by learning of new clean technologies and green practices to improve business efficiency. Most of our members are small businesses. We are often asked how we define “green” and whether a business that does not produce or sell green products can join. Our response is a resounding: YES! We welcome anyone to join who can adopt our values and wants to preserve New Mexico’s unique local, cultural and environmental assets while furthering their long-term sustainable business success.
Many of our members also value our legislative involvement. We have actively supported legislative proposals that are important to our members. We have also actively opposed certain legislation that our members oppose and which they see as bad for New Mexico’s responsible businesses. In the recent 2013 session, seven bills that we supported were passed by the Legislature and signed into law by the governor. Among those were several renewable energy-related bills, including geothermal resource leasing (HB 85), solar collection permitting (HB 279) and joint House and Senate memorials to review and recommend incentives for renewable-energy storage (HJM 10/SJM 43). In the area of energy efficiency, we supported a bill on utility energy efficiency and load management (HB 267), an extension of the sustainable business tax credit (SB 14) and a bill on energy conservation bonds (SB 101). Finally, along with a broad coalition of interests, we also supported the bill to establish commissioner qualifications among the Public Regulation commissioners (SB 8).
There were also four bills this past session that we supported and that were passed by the Legislature but were later pocket-vetoed by the governor. Among these were the valuation of renewable-energy equipment (SB 284) and utility charges for certain schools (SB 321). One important bill for transparency of our state government was the tax-expenditure report and revenue budget and reporting bill (SB 7), which would have required the tracking of certain revenue and expenditures to demonstrate the public benefit. Finally, the New Mexico Green Chamber worked very hard with our member businesses to pass the designation of benefit corporations (HB 40). The bill was passed by the House and the Senate, but was unfortunately pocket-vetoed by the governor. This is undoubtedly an issue that will come up again, and we will continue to support our members businesses in that effort.
“Green” to us stands for environmental stewardship, but also profit. We believe green leads to green. That is, adopting a green approach leads to producing more green $. We believe that responsible businesses can turn a profit by harnessing the green business advantage and appealing to a more socially conscious consumer. We are not an environmental organization, but our business members do care about protecting our environment—including public lands, air and water. Our businesses believe in the triple bottom line: people, place and profit. They believe not only that they can build a successful business while doing no harm to the planet, but they also believe that doing things responsibly will also distinguish them from other businesses, thus leading to a market advantage among responsible consumers. So far, our members have reported improved quality of life for themselves and their employees, as well as an increase in profits from harnessing the green advantage. We believe this is the way to ensure sustainable long-term profits.
We invite you to attend one of our Green Drinks events held monthly around the state, so you can network with other Green Chamber members. We also invite you to join a chapter of the NMGCC near you. You can find more information about our membership and sponsorship levels, as well as our events, on our website: www.nmgreenchamber.com
Best wishes for a Happy Holiday Season and a successful 2014!