Annual Sustainability Summit held to help student, entrepreneur businesses

Jacob Runnels

The Kent State chapter of the Net Impact organization hosted its fifth annual Sustainability Summit Thursday night in the Business Administration Building.

Each year, Net Impact, a graduate student organization, hopes to influence students and entrepreneurs to incorporate environmentally, economically and socially sustainable business practices into their companies.

“(The Sustainability Summit) is an event we host each year to raise awareness in the community about companies in the region that are operating sustainably,” said Ryan Croyle, secretary for Net Impact and graduate architecture major. “We coordinate with speakers from within Kent State University and the surrounding community to come in and talk about how they’re implementing sustainable strategies in their businesses.”

Net Impact organized three guest speakers to discuss sustainability applied to business, such as architecture and the future of Kent. This involved getting the word out about sustainability.

“Our adviser is encouraging us to go out and inform others about the (sustainability) opportunities available,” said Christina Bills, president of Net Impact and graduate business administration major. “All of these things that can make you more financially stable, more economically stable, more environmentally friendly; things that lead to better business and a better world in general.”

The event began with three keynote speakers, Joe Ferut, David DuBois and Greg Simms who gave their presentations.

Ferut, an assistant professor for architecture, spoke about “the value of design,” encouraging the audience to think about business practices that don’t cater to an idea of building a product, but rather building the value of a product.

DuBois, an organizational psychologist at Kent State, spoke about the “Net+ Initiative,” a plan to establish an eco-village in Kent. The eco-village would be a way to condense on resources within the community in new ways.

Simms, an engineering manager for the Akron Rubber Development Laboratory, spoke about reinventing old products for a new sustainable future. Simms discussed how some specific products that were harmful for the environment, such as packaging peanuts, could be replaced.

At the end of the night, Cathy DuBois, the club’s adviser and Associate Dean of the College of Business Administration, spoke about the sustainability minor at Kent State and how the school will soon gain more classes associated with sustainability.

With each event, the club retains the hope that viewers of the summit can go out and incorporate sustainable practices within their lives.

“Because we’re expecting students, once they get out there, when they have positions in companies, they will have mindsets around sustainable practices,” said Evelyne Ringia, treasurer for Net Impact and graduate business administration major. “(They’ll use those mindsets) with whatever decisions they’ll make in those companies.”  

The catering for the event had been donated by Chipotle and Chick-fil-A, and the raffle prizes were donated from local businesses such as Ray’s Place.

“We also work with local companies who donate food for the raffle,” Croyle said. “We try to seek out companies that are sustainable and that are working towards sustainable practices. That’s kind of a way to advertise to them a little bit.”

The club meets one Monday a month at 5:00 p.m. in room 483 of the Business Administration Building.

Contact Jacob Runnels at [email protected].