A group of local businesses aimed at promoting environmental stewardship will mark its official start Friday at the Regional Energy & Sustainability Conference at the Hughes Metropolitan Complex, 5015 E. 29th St. North.
Green Biz Wichita will announce its membership drive at a brief presentation at the conference, said Dixie Larson, co-chair of the nonprofit's executive committee and a principal at accounting firm Kennedy and Coe.
The idea for the organization developed from a conversation last year between Larson and Candace Wilson, the firm's marketing coordinator. Larson said they were discussing measures Kennedy and Coe was implementing — such as eliminating paper cups and changing from a print newsletter to an electronic one.
"And we thought if we were able to make measurable progress, imagine what it would look like if the whole city could do it and the impact it would have on the environment," Larson said.
Member companies include Kennedy & Coe, Massco, Westar Energy, Associated Advertising, Scholfield Honda and ServiceMaster by Best.
Besides Larson and Wilson, Green Biz's executive committee includes Jill Ann Ward of Massco, Sebastian Zahr of Scholfield, Sherii Farmer of Westar and Mike Snyder and Sean Amore, both of Associated.
Larson said the group's goal is to have 500 individual and company members by the end of the year.
"The main emphasis on this is certainly not to make money but do good for the environment," she said. "We've already had close to 100 conversations with businesses throughout the city, and they are interested."
Larson said the group's mission is to advocate for green practices and provide formal education sessions on ways for businesses to implement practices that lessen their impact on the environment. Long term, she said, it hopes to also have a lobbyist.
Memberships will range from $50 to $1,000 a year.
Roger Scholfield, president of Scholfield Honda, said he sees it as an opportunity for businesses to learn best environmental practices from one another.
"It's just kind of nice having a collection of different businesses all with green on their minds," he said.
Green Biz expects to launch its Web site today, at www.greenbizwichita.org.
Larson can also be reached at 316-691-3706.