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Banner Biz QandA

11/12/2010, 6:58 a.m.
Laury Hammel (center), founder and executive director of the Sustainable Business Network (SBN), meets with assistants Fan Watkinson...
Laury Hammel (center), founder and executive director of the Sustainable Business Network (SBN), meets with assistants Fan Watkinson (l) and Nicola Williams at the launch of the Boston Local Food Festival.

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Laury Hammel (center), founder and executive director of the Sustainable Business Network (SBN), meets with assistants Fan Watkinson (l) and Nicola Williams at the launch of the Boston Local Food Festival.

Q: How was the Sustainable Business Network (SBN) organized?

In 1988, Laury Hammel, a local businessman, decided to organize corporate leaders who were committed to socially responsible business practices. Twenty-two years ago they recruited like-minded companies to their cause. Over the years the name of the organization has been shortened to simply SBN.

Q: What is the primary objective of SBN?

No company is big enough to build a sustainable economy by itself, but when united for this purpose, they can create a business community that is local, green and fair. In order to achieve this, it is necessary to support the growth and development of locally owned independent businesses that subscribe to the SBN objectives.

Q: What is the work being done by SBN in each of the following projects areas, with special emphasis, where appropriate, on minority business?

Local food

SBN has been strengthening the local food system by bringing together farmers and food entrepreneurs and Boston area residents with the intention of developing new connections and expanding the local food economy. SBN has helped support the growth and development of Crop Circle Kitchen. SBN has organized ALLocal dinners throughout metropolitan Boston, including Restaurant Laura in Upham’s Corner and Garden Girl in Roxbury.

SBN organized the first Boston Local Food Festival on Fort Point Channel on Oct. 2, 2010. Several vendors were minority food entrepreneurs and the participants represented all neighborhoods in Boston and were very diverse. Please visit online BostonLocalFoodFestival.org.

Green sustainable business

SBN has organized the nation’s leading green business certification program entitled the Sustainable Business Leader Program (SBLP). SBN has certified more than 50 businesses including several businesses owned by African American entrepreneurs, including Roxbury Technology, City Fresh Foods, Liz’s Hair Care and others. Please visit SustainableBusinessLeader.org.

Local purchasing first

SBN has organized local purchasing campaigns and organizations in Cambridge, Somerville and Worcester. Please go to CambridgeLocalFirst.org and SomervilleLocalFirst.org.

Entrepreneur roundtable

SBN has organized three peer-to-peer entrepreneur roundtables that meet monthly to offer mutual support and guidance.

Building community capital

SBN is in the process of identifying financial sources to connect community capital and local entrepreneurs.

Q: How do businesses join SBN?

Go to SBN.org on the Internet, complete the application, then pay by credit card. The amount of dues will vary for individuals and companies, but the amounts are modest at all levels. The higher dues admit members to more events without paying a fee.

Q: What are the financial advantages for joining?

Membership will help promote your company to customers in your market area as being socially responsible. Your company can develop goodwill among customers because you will be seen as contributing to the community and being environmentally sound.

Association with other members will provide opportunities to develop sound business advice to increase revenues and cut costs. SBN projects will also provide financing opportunities and create potential interest in investment in members’ companies.