It may be mid-winter, but one spot in the heart of New York City is hot, green and growing. That spot is Green Spaces, an eco-sensitive, non-profit-centered incubator, doing what incubators are meant to do: helping to accelerate the successful development of entrepreneurial companies through an array of business support resources and services.
Green Spaces was launched nearly three years ago by Minneapolis native Jennie Nevin when she left a Wall Street job for, ahem, greener pastures.
"The idea was conceived in the winter of 2007, "said Nevin. "I had left Wall Street and was doing some independent consulting work for small, green businesses. I was working from home in a small, New York City apartment that was lonely and cramped and I was always looking to network with other green businesses.
"One night my roommate at the time, Amanda Miller, and I were discussing this conundrum and she thought I should start a space for green start-ups to work and hang out from. Marissa Feinberg, a partner in Green Spaces, thought of the name and we launched it."
Nevin explained that her interest in the green industry started right after college when she took a year off to take graduate environmental courses at Harvard.
"I realized that sustainability in business made a lot of sense due to limited natural resources, the principles of reduce and reuse which also make economic sense, " said Nevin. "At the time, these principles were not commonly accepted in business, so I went back for my MBA and started my career on Wall Street. In the evening, I researched green investments and in 2005 realized that this was beginning to take off. I then started a networking group called ‘Green Leaders', that's now run by Marissa [Feinberg] and includes more than 400 change agents for sustainability in NYC."
Nevin explains the goal of Green Spaces is really to bring together leading green entrepreneurs from all industries and help them all grow stronger together. Her theory is that by coming together, sharing ideas and resources and showing the broader community their products and services, that those businesses will help accelerate an emerging green economy.
"We would like to create a hub for green entrepreneurs to work from and to connect with the broader economy in several regions across the country," said Nevin "We're currently in New York and Colorado, and our next stop will most likely be L.A. We'd like to eventually own the buildings we occupy and use them to showcase how a building can inexpensively be retrofitted green."
Green Spaces companies have access to interns for project work and all member companies are able to hire in-house interns at reasonable rates on a project-by-project basis depending on the needs and skills required for the project. Green Spaces then helps showcase its companies to the public through its newsletter, its website, local and national press as well as and the networking events they host every week at each Green Spaces Hub.
"We plan on creating a starter package for our start-up companies which will provide them with access to a broad range of services to launch their company at a low, fixed price, "said Nevin. "We'd like the package to include how to incorporate your business, plus basic legal and accounting services, logo and marketing materials and website design. We also plan on setting up a network of investors for introductions to member companies looking to raise capital."
Green Spaces is also in the process of launching a Green Route in Denver that maps out the green businesses and organizations throughout the metro area, as well as resources such as CSA drop-offs, and public transportation routes. This will be available complimentary online and in print in participating organizations around the city.
Some of Green Spaces most active and thriving members are Crop-to-Cup Coffee, Sea-to-Table and Farms Reach. All have received considerable press mentions, but more importantly have made valuable connections in the community by having an official work space where they can work on growing their business.
And what about the Green Spaces space itself, is it green. "Oh yes," says Nevin. "Along with our focus on growing emerging green businesses and organizations, we do try to keep our own operations green. We recycle, compost, have a native plant garden, use CFL light bulbs, and use all reclaimed furniture throughout our space."
Just what we'd expect.
-Green Guide Network, January 16 2010