ďWomenís Entrepreneurship in Green IndustriesĒ

April 29, 2010, 1:00pm Ė 2:30pm ET

 

 

Coordinator:†††††††††† Welcome and thank you for standing by. Iíd like to remind all parties you will be in a listen only mode until todayís question and answer session.

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† This call is being recorded, if anyone does have any objections you may disconnect at this time.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Iíd now like to turn the call over to Ms. Karen Shapiro. You may begin.

 

Karen Shapiro:†††††† Thank you Cathy and thank you all for joining us today on our second teleconference about Green Jobs for Women. My name is Karen Hornstein Shapiro from the U.S. Department of Labor, Womanís Bureau.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† This is the second in a series of seven teleconferences for workforce practitioners designed to offer information and an exchange of ideas to better connect woman with green jobs training and green employment.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† This area of workforce development is an important part of preparing our nation to be competitive in a new economy. If you didnít have the opportunity to participate in our first teleconference which was titled, ďWhy is Green Good for Woman?Ē please visit the Womenís Bureau Web site at www.dol.gov/wb to review the materials.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† It is my pleasure now to introduce the Director of the Womenís Bureau Sara Manzano-DŪazÖ

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Dr. Manzano-DŪaz - Iím sorry, Director Manzano-DŪaz...

 

Sara Manzano-DŪaz:†††† I am a Doctor of (Law).

 

Karen Shapiro:†††††† ... has spent her career in public service advocating on behalf of working class families, women and girls. She has more than 25 years of federal, state and judicial experience and we are thrilled to have her here at the Womenís Bureau. Director Manzano-DŪaz.

 

Sara Manzano-DŪaz:†††† Thank you Karen - Ms. Shapiro - for your assistance in spearheading this effort. I really appreciate all the hard work that youíve put into this.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† And Iíd like to say welcome to everyone on todayís conference call on Womenís Entrepreneurship in the Green Economy.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† It is fitting actually to participate in this call with you because we have an exciting panel that will be discussing their experiences as green entrepreneurs. And Iím very grateful that theyíve taken time out of their busy schedules to share their first hand tips with us in how to succeed in growing your own green business.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† I also want to welcome you on behalf of Secretary Hilda Solis. As you know, or maybe you donít know, I always take a point of personal privilege because she is the first Latina ever to serve on a presidential cabinet. So weíre very proud of her as you can imagine.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† And in addition to that, her vision is good jobs for everyone. But of course as the Director of the Womenís Bureau, Iím talking about good jobs for women.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† So she has been promoting green jobs even when she was in Congress. I mean she offered the Green Acts Bill back in 2007. So she has been on green for a long time, even before she became the Secretary.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Iíve been the Bureau-head now for two months, and my vision is to empower all working women nationwide to achieve economic security. And Iím really proud that the Womenís Bureau is taking the lead to ensure that women are aware and are being prepared to succeed in the emerging green jobs sector.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Because as we know, and as the stats show us, in the 21st Century green jobs - STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and nontraditional jobs - all these jobs are the kinds of jobs that are going to be higher paying in the future.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† But the thing that I like about this particular teleconference is that this is talking about how to create your own business in the green economy which I think is fabulous.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† You know, just to give you a little background we in the Womenís Bureau conducted listening sessions and roundtables across the country to find out what women knew and what they donít know about the green economy. And as a response to that we are creating A Womanís Guide to Green Jobs.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† And the reason why Iím saying that is we hope to launch it in the fall. And as a result Iím giving you a heads up that is coming. Tell everybody that is coming because this is going to be something that is based on the comments that we received and weíre very excited to work with our partners on that.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† So without further ado Iím going to give you back to Ms. Shapiro and - so we can start the exciting conference call.

 

Karen Shapiro:†††††† Thank you. As you know we were scheduled to have a representative from the Small Business Administration present today as well. Unfortunately due to schedule conflicts she was not able to join us.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† However we do have a full agenda with a variety of valuable topics and information, so letís begin.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Iíd like to introduce Colleen Graber. Ms. Graber has extensive experience in workforce, economic development and education policy and has conducted evaluation and strategic planning work for a variety of clients at the federal, state and local levels.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Ms. Graber is leading the development of the upcoming publication, A Womenís Guide to Green Jobs, which the Director just mentioned, and this Opening Opportunities in the Green Economy Teleconference Series.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† In these efforts, Public Policy Associates works in partnership with Wider Opportunities for Women - Ms. Graber.

 

Colleen Graber:††††† Thank you Karen. To begin my presentation today I will be focusing on the economic potential for woman in green entrepreneurship.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† The first thing Iíd like to do is begin by defining what is meant by entrepreneurship, as there are variations and what is considered entrepreneurial.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† In the guide that weíre developing and in this presentation weíre using a broad general definition and looking at entrepreneurship in the context of womenís employment options.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† In that vein, a womenís entrepreneurship might take the form of self employment, a single owner or joint venture, a small business with a few employees, or a larger business with many employees.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† So women have the potential when they are entrepreneurs to have a broad range of options in terms of what their interests are and what fits their current life and career goals.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Similarly when defining a green industry - thatís been an involving effort by a number of organizations over the last several years.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Based on information from O*NET, which is the Occupational Information Network, there are some industries that are green at their heart, things like renewable energy, environmental protection, energy trading, and recycling and waste reduction. [Editorís Note:See http://www.onetcenter.org/green.html for more information]

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† The Bureau of Labor Statistics has done some preliminary work on defining green industries and occupations and currently has a comment request about the proposed system out. It was issued in March and closes tomorrow April 30th.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† They are looking to define green business by four categories of activity - direct green goods and services, such as weatherizing a building; indirect goods and services, things like mercury free batteries.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Another one is the components of a finished green product, like the blades that are part of a wind turbine; and the distribution of goods such as the retailing of green products.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Other industries have the potential to be green depending on the processes, products and services involved. And some of these might be manufacturing, transportation, and construction.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Opportunities with these industries and the more wholly green industries can have a widely varying capital cost for an entrepreneur.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† For instance, starting a biofuel processing plant is a very different prospect than starting a green cab service.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† So for prospective entrepreneurs, the scope of their focus in a given green industry will vary depending on their knowledge, resources, and inclination.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† There are a number of niches in the green economy that women could capture who are either seeking small or larger scale opportunities.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† A couple of the industries that have certainly expanded in the green economy in recent years are for example, organic food sales. According to the Organic Trade Association those organic food sales increased between 14.6% and 21% annually between 1998 and 2006.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† While the organic food segment also increased itís share of the industry as a whole. So that aspect of green agriculture has grown tremendously.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Here is another example - there have been a number of technological advances (unintelligible) decades in an effort to find alternative fuels and renewable resources such as through solar, wind, biofuel, geothermal and so on.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† For example, weíre seeing greater renewable energy consumption in the United States, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Between 2007 and 2008 renewable energy consumption increased 7% in the United States and its share again of the energy market increased as well.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† So weíre seeing two things, one is that the subset of larger industries are making inroads in terms of their share of the market in their industries and they are also in general just increasing in volume.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† These growing markets present opportunities for women to contribute to or advance emerging industries through creative ideas. There is a lot of potential for industrious woman to find a niche and develop a business.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Within those niches there are a variety of green products and services that could be provided. Some examples of existing types of products are items made from recycled materials and non toxic natural cleaners.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† A few examples of green services are the energy auditing of homes and businesses, and the installation of green roofs and rain gardens.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† But those are just a few examples of the many different green products and services that exist now and does not capture any of the potential new innovative ideas that could come.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† While much of becoming a green entrepreneur is similar to the traditional entrepreneurship in the steps in creating a business, there are some aspects that are different which Iím going to detail.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† One thing that weíve seen is that entrepreneurs that are focused on green tend to have a great commitment to the environment.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Most entrepreneurs donít generally go into green simply because of the business potential. They often have a personal commitment to doing work that is beneficial to the planet in the long term.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Another difference for green entrepreneurship is the need for consumer education. With so much thatís different and new in the green economy consumers are not always aware of the benefits of particular products or the fundamentals of how they work.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† For example, not understanding how solar panels on their house could be beneficial and how those connect with their understanding of the traditional energy grid.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Because of this, owners of green businesses may need to do a fair amount of education of the consumer before a sale is achieved. And that needs to be worked into a business strategy.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Similarly products that are green can be more costly than alternative non-green products.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† And entrepreneurs need to understand how the consumer views purchases as a financial decision and market their product or service to address those concerns.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Another area that is different for green entrepreneurs is in technology. We all recognize that technology has changed rapidly for roughly the last 150 years with seemingly ever increasing quicker release of an adaptation to technologies in recent decades.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Because the green economy overall relies on new technology, the green entrepreneur must be thoughtful about how a new product or process innovation will impact their businesses and their markets.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† As a result, continuing education is especially relevant for those in green industries to stay abreast of those kinds of changes and technology and the impacts that they could have.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† One additional point on this issue of difference for green entrepreneurs, as with any business venture they do need to be mindful of their local and regional markets and resources to understand the feasibility and demand for products and services.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† What is different is though there may be a greater need to be conscious of local and regional traditions and resources.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† For example, some may choose to focus on biofuels and (unintelligible) area with a tradition of growing certain crops. While those in metro areas may concentrate on green transportation, or construction opportunities.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† In addition, it may not be economically or ecologically appropriate to transport a green product or service beyond a certain area.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† So those are all things that are somewhat different when someone is considering being a green entrepreneur.For those of you that assist women with their career development - you are in a good position when it comes to helping women think about entrepreneurship as an employment option and connecting them to resources that will help them achieve their goals.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Most areas have multiple local resources that can assist entrepreneurs. For example, Chambers of Commerce, Small Business Development Centers and economic development organizations. Those are all generally located in cities at their local level. And there could also be regional resources easily available.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† In order to assist them in connecting with these resources, I would recommend getting to know what is available in your region and the types of services they can provide so that you can refer women to them effectively.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Part of the struggle in connecting women with entrepreneurship opportunities or in general with connecting with green jobs and opportunities in a green economy, is just the awareness of those opportunities.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† But part of this is making women aware of entrepreneurship as a valuable option for the right person and getting them to the resources that will help them be successful in their goals.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† For example, someone interested in becoming a small business owner may benefit from entrepreneurship classes at your local community college.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Or, your area might have a business incubator that can offer an entrepreneur office space as they get started.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† I would encourage you to refer to the fact sheet that accompanies this teleconference to get further resources and information on those issues.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† To conclude, I will point out that while over 10 million firms were owned by woman in 2008-2009 according to the center for Womenís Business Research. Women who own businesses are vastly underrepresented in a key category of large scale firms those with $1 million plus in revenue.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† So that being said, there is room for women to be bigger players in the overall green economy that contributes to innovations and business growth. But also in using employment for personal - excuse me, using entrepreneurship for personal employment.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Iíd like to know introduce the next speaker Julie Castro Abrams. Julie Castro Abrams is a national leader in microfinance and womenís issues. She has been CEO of Womenís Initiative since 2001. Following a non profit career that spans 20 years.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Julie Castro Abrams is the recipient of the League of Woman Voters Women Who Could Be President Award, the FDA Advocate of the Year 2009, Human Rights Award from the Commission on the Status of Woman, and the Woman of Color Action Network Award.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† She currently serves on the Board of the California Association for Microenterprise Opportunity, and the One California Bank Advisory Board - Julie.

 

Julie Castro Abrams:†††† Thank you very much for the great introduction. Colleen, you really did a terrific job of doing a wonderful overview of the green economy as well as womenís - the opportunity for women entrepreneurs.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† And I think what I can do is literally and figuratively add a little bit of color to the conversation in thinking about who these women entrepreneurs are.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Sara, thank you for - also for introducing us in your leadership on this topic. we are thrilled that Hilda is at the helm today. It is about time.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† So okay, so Iím going to get off of that political tangent here.

 

Sara Manzano-DŪaz:†††† We are very proud of her. Thank you so much for that.

 

Julie Castro Abrams:†††† Indeed. So I want to ask - and I know that you guys arenít going to be able to respond - everyone on this phone. But I want you to just take a second and think. When you heard Colleenís overview of the green industry and green businesses who did you envision in your mind, what did that person look like?

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† And I ask you that because I actually think that we can expand our thinking a little bit as we think about who and what they are doing. And what the true opportunities are for women entrepreneurs.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Womanís Initiative for Self Employment helps woman - low income women - who are high potential and have a vision of starting their own business to create their own business and to grow that business through access to networks We train, finance and support people over time. [Editorís Note: See http://www.womensinitiative.org for more information]

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† And what weíve learned over 22 years is that itís different for everyone. And women often come to - and they have different visions Ė right? Some people want to have a business where they have 100 employees and they have taken over the world - and many do.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† But for many of them this is lifestyle choice. So for you job developers who are on the phone and someone comes to you and they really challenging with childcare and parent care responsibilities. They come to you and they are struggling with a disability which 20% of our participants are.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† They have limited English or limited education, and youíre concerned that while you can get them that entry level job, how are they ever going to really move up the market and really ever make a good living and have a safe wage that really they can live a life with dignity and build assets.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† African American and Latina women are the most asset poor of all Americans and they also fairing very poorly today with skyrocketing and terrible unemployment rates. And if youíre 50, and youíre a woman, or any of those categories you are particularly vulnerable today.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† But what we know is that they can start businesses and be very, very successful in fact.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† And it doesnít - you donít have to have a lot of education. You donít have to fit that profile of that person we imagine who can move up the ladder in some green industries. You can actually create it yourself.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† So Iím going to give you a couple examples of some of the women who we have worked with, some of these courageous women who I am so - admire.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Letís start with Margaret Sanchez. She actually worked at Apple and after being there for 20 years they cut her off right before she was going to be able to receive her pension.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† And she created a solar screen business in the Spring of 2009 - California Solar Screens. She customizes and installs energy efficient solar screens and retractable window coverings. And she has been so successful she is actually now running for City Council.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Serena Bartlett - this is another example of another way to go about green industry business. She is an owner of a book company. She publishes books called GrassRoutes Travel. They are eco travel guides. And she has green road trip guides that she also publishes and she is now in her 6th book.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Now itís interesting the average age of the women who come to us is 42. But she came to us when she was 23 years old.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Another example of a different type of business entirely is Jordan Champagne with the Happy Girl Kitchen Company.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† She actually lived in a tepee on the edge of an organic farm in Central California and saw how much of the farms ripe produce never made it to the market and went to waste.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† So she started a business making sauces, preserves, pickle jams from produce that would otherwise go to waste. And she is very successful business and she has contracts with major retailers including Dean and Deluca.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† But she made a commitment to buy only local organic produce that otherwise would not make it to market.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Another example is Karine Brighten owner of Karine Brighten Events. She has recently become a certified bay area green business. And she planned a benefit for the Vegan Outreach at Berkeleyís greenest building, The David Brower Center, is just another example.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† So you see these women come in every business type, every business shape. On average the women who go through our program, only low income women is our market. And 85% are women of color and half take our training in Spanish.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† These folks who many of you would imagine are going to struggle and they have come to as average household income of $12,000 a year. Here women who a lot of you would think you know, how am I going to get her to a place where she is going to be able to really have a career ladder up.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† But these women are creating businesses that on average create three jobs. In fact in our organization 2,800 new jobs were created last year alone.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† So they are creating jobs and they creating businesses and theyíre doing them with consciousness. I think a lot of us know that when women make decisions they often are thinking more broadly about the impact of their decisions on families and communities.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† And we find that 85% of our participants come to us with a top business priority being a socially responsible and environmentally responsible or green business, so that they can live their own values in their business.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† So what they are doing is they are creating locally owned businesses, they are walking to work, not driving. They are sourcing locally - the dollar recycles in the community.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† They are making commitments to both green practices, if their business itself isnít in the green industry they are making a commitment to green practices in their business to only sourcing locally for example, or organic produce only.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† And for many of our participants they are coming out with innovative and creative ways to make the community healthier. We have terrific beauty product and beauty salon businesses that are really breaking this mold of some of the dangerous chemicals in the salons.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Or, women who are in cleaning businesses especially large community - as you can imagine large community of Latina participants come to us and they say, well I donít know anything about business. And you say, well youíve been cleaning houses for five years you clearly know something.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Letís just figure out how to turn this into a profitable business so that you can sustain your family. And one of the ways - they are committed to their own health. And they can find that if they are able to market it as a green cleaning business they can charge more money, and in fact make a more sustainable living.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† So I think that is probably a good overview and I know weíre going to have some questions later. And I just want to say thanks everyone for your interest in this and Iím looking forward to figuring out ways that we can get this to spread like wildfire and really give people the resources that they need - especially lower income women.

 

Colleen Graber:††††† Thank you Julie. Our next speaker is Laura Culin - Ms. Culin has over 20 years experience in the construction industry. She purchased Austin Lumber which is a family business located in Texas in 1998. [Editorís Note: See http://austinlumber.com/ for more information]

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Although she is the President and CEO of the company, she works side by side with her employees and can be found operating the mill equipment, working on accounting, or handling purchases, definitely a multitasker.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Ms. Culin received the Congressional Medal of Distinction Award by President Bush in 2006 - Laura.

 

Laura Culin:††††††††††† Yes thank you. Today what Iím going to try to do is give you a whole different prospective as a woman in the actual construction industry as a micro small business, so some of the things that Iíve gone through.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† My input to this [teleconference] is from a small business owner and actual hands on experience Iíve encountered as being part of this business.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Hearing the focus today and for many people involved I never started to be out in this business. I never wanted to be in the lumber business. My family owned this company since 1929. And my grandfather started it.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† I was at - and I think many of us today will hear, I was actually in an all girls college, my degree Ė an Associates degree in Marketing and Fashion Merchandising.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† I was going - you know, this was in the Ď80s - I was going to stay in Dallas be a retail buyer, travel the world.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Reality is Ė and this is something Julie had touched on, is that you know, we never know what life is going to hand to us. And I actually fell in love, got married, and moved back to Austin and had to come to work at Austin Lumber because of some family sickness and illnesses and some development there.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† I never thought I was going to go this way, but what I wanted to touch on is we never know where our paths are going to take us. And one reason Iím staying in it, and the one reason I got into construction is because I love what I do. And I love teaching others about sustainable green build products.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Iíve been in the construction industry since 1985. And when I got involved I had to learn from the ground up. If anything - know your products, know what youíre talking about, and prove yourself.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† And even though - like I said my family was in the lumber business - I never was around the office, I knew nothing about the construction industry as a whole.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Again in the Ď80s I was like a prima-donna and had a conception, like most of us ladies did in the Ď80s, that it was a manís job, it was swinging a hammer, framing, laying brick or tile. And it was a dirty job.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Today the construction industry in my point of view is the most ever changing field that I know of for women. Yes, we still swing a hammer, Iím on the jobsite, I drive the forklift, laying stone. But the technology and the advancement that has been made in construction today has made this nontraditional field open so many multiple doors for women.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† To date Iím the only 100% woman-owned retail lumber company. I also happen to be FSC Certified which is Forest Stewardship Council. Itís an international certification. Iím the only one in Texas that is FSC Certified and the only one in the country that I have found. (Editorís Note:See http://www.fscus.org/ for more information]

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† It adds something that I want to do that sets me apart. So I have a very interesting as being on the construction side and focusing on sustainable green build products.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† One thing that helped me through this, and I hope other will encourage to do, is, I joined in 1992 - I joined NAWIC which is the National Association of Woman in Construction. And it helped me connect with women and the industry across the country. [Editorís Note: See http://www.nawic.org for more information]

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† I also joined LAT, which is the Lumbermenís Association of Texas. And that helped me learn what other lumber companies were carrying, what other products they were selling and how I could separate myself from the competition as a woman in a nontraditional field. [Editorís Note: See http://www.lat.org/ for more information]

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† This is where I got my hands-on knowledge and where I am very selective because I am such a small company. I am very selective on what I can pick and what I can carry because I have limited funds.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† That is something Ė donít overindulge yourself when you first start out and think you can carry so many - a range of products. Find something you like, something youíre good with, and focus on those products and then expand.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† One of my very interesting encounters as women in the construction industry that I had in the Ď90s is I went to a convention for the Lumbermenís Association and I was actually asked to - I was the only woman business owner there. And I was actually asked if I wanted to go on tour with the other women on a shopping tour, because they did not know how to accept a woman business owner in the lumber industry.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† At that time when I went into the meeting I actually was embarrassed, this was you know, quite a while ago, and I didnít stay for the meeting. Iíve learned a lot in the 20 years that Iíve been in the construction industry and I actually now have seen how the men in our industry have also had to make the changes and advancement in the construction industry, and how to adapt and accept the women as we are coming on board and we are one of the fastest growing in this industry.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Now I can tell you I am a great supporter of the LAT, the Lumbermenís Association, and they have taken this into account. So we have changed that look in this construction industry field.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Another thing that Julie had talked about or touched on is, see what is going on in your community. I started an East Austin Business Ownerís Association in my neighborhood because it gets other business owners together, connect with them, see what weíre doing, not that weíre on the same field. But we can see what we can do as a community base and bring us all together and work as a group.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† My passion for green build products started about 1995 when I was trying to, as I said, make a mark for myself. I was newly divorced, I was single mom with three kids.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Where weíre talking about taking on so much, thatís when I begin to find the aspects of green and I started attending several different conventions to find out what architects were looking for, where we were going with building, and what the products were available.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† And I saw where these things were coming from, where we were going, and it was something I was very interested in, as I said had a passion for.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† So in 1998 I stepped up to the plate and I actually bought the company from my family. And so now I am completely 100% woman owned lumber company.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† In all of this and coming and trying to develop myself I actually, in 2001 we have to figure 9-11 hit, well we were hit by that. I actually had accident with a table saw. I was out running material and had an accident - pretty good one. Just had multiple things hit, was the same time my father had passed away who was working with me.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† But I took a year off to decide is this what I wanted in my life, am I on the right path, do I want to stay in construction.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† In 2002 I decided yes, I did. And I became certified with the City of Austin as a woman owned lumber company and got HUB Certified also. [Editorís Note: See http://www.sba.gov/hubzone/ for more information]

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Best encouragement - or one of the great best advice I can give you is prove yourself afterwards. If you are a woman owned company get WBE certified, minority owned certified, HUB Certified, which is a Federal certification. Do that first, get in the door, and then focus on proving yourself in the industry and backup what you can do.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† That was one lesson I wish I would have learned the officers or someone would have helped me when I was trying to start out.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† We have done great when I became certified. We were able to stand behind our products. We were really making a mark for ourselves in the construction industry. And then in 2005, children were playing with bottle rockets and burned down my whole lumber company.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† I lost everything I had, my business, my inventory, my trucks, out of 7 buildings only 5 survived and I had no insurance to cover it.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† So starting over just - I guess the one thing that I can leave you with anything today, is that we all have obstacles in our lives as woman. We know we have these obstacles. Anybody can do it. I did not miss a day of work, we were able to open even with just a phone going and stay in business.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† I had a passion for what I did. I knew what I was doing and I believed in it, and that is what kept me going.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† If I didnít love what I did, I donít know if I would have overcome. But, as of now its two years - weíre about to celebrate two years in our new hardware store. I am now able to take a tragedy and make something great out of it my establishing myself as a green - as sustainable green build products in my new hardware store.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† So, look at all the pitfalls that I have overcome. I just want to give you more of a reality sense and idea. Iím still growing, Iím still struggling with this everyday. Iím trying to help other micro small businesses in non traditional field to learn from my mistakes. Get them certified with the city, join with the - Austin Community Colleges is one of our local community colleges - we teach classes on women and solar jobs.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† That is probably one of the best things I can do is get involved in community involvement. Take advantage of that, take advantage of continuing education if youíre going to be in a green industry. We have to learn constantly, itís an ever changing field, there is no recommendation on what is a green build product.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† So you need to be able to stay on top of it. I take classes quarterly Iím almost at that 50 mark as Julie was talking about. But I take classes every quarter in something to do with construction management, construction related fields, or product knowledge.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† We actually teach product knowledge classes here at my office. So you can have a whole new spin, just because Iím in construction Iím not your regular construction industry field or your regular hardware store. Weíve put our own spin to it and brought in the woman aspect of the construction industry.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† So I hope weíre a leader in this for a new way of thinking because women are very creative in their thinking in their process where they go.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Read everything you have. If I can give you something else, just read constantly. Donít look at what you see on TV or in the big ads. Get the background knowledge of the information of what youíre going to do or carry.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† And again, I am focusing on what I know as a non traditional field. But take your safety training, again the education, get involved in the community college, and support your local green programs.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Join your local Green Build Council. I believe in that completely to learn a network within people that have the same experience, or the same mindset as you do. [Editorís Note: See http://www.usgbc.org/ for more information]

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† In closing itís just Iím hoping that I can give some type of a valuable input into this [teleconference]. Sort of going off the track and giving as a local business ownerís perspective some of the pitfalls and experiences that Iíve had to go through.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† If I can give you anything else as an overall understanding of being a woman entrepreneur first and then find what your passion is in green. And develop that and grow off of that.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† And join and listen in to events and [teleconferences] like this, and it really helps you get a first hands on experience.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† I hope I can leave you with that. And my door is always open for you.

 

Colleen Graber:††††† Thank you very much Laura. Our next speaker is Rebecca Lundberg. Ms. Lundberg made a major career shift, which she will tell you about, when she began her company Powerfully Green, which is located in Minnesota and she started the company in 2007. Her company installs solar equipment in residential buildings. [Editorís Note:See http://www.powerfullygreen.com/ for more information]

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† She is a licensed general contractor and is certified by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners - Rebecca.

 

Rebecca Lundberg: Thanks for having me. Powerfully Green is a certified small business enterprise, a certified woman owned business and also a certified minority business.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† So I agree with Laura that those are helpful. We have just a few owners and we had some part time employees and sub contractors that we work with.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† How I got started in my business is very non traditional. I raised two daughters, and ended up raising them without their dad he changed his mind about being married with kids.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† And so when my youngest entered the fifth grade I went back to school and earned a Masters degree in Education and got a job teaching in the public schools.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† I loved teaching and I ended up focusing on teaching math, science, and gifted and talented education in the fifth grade classrooms.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† My lifestyle always reflected an interest in my environment and interest in health, especially as a parent, and sustainable living, things like gardening.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† And this only grew stronger as I raised my children. And so I think those kinds of backgrounds that women have, can lead into a job you just donít always know what itís going to be.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† So I really started pursuing my solar business while I was still teaching because I was searching for information as a homeowner because I was interested in the topic of solar power.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† And when I went looking for someone to help answer my questions I found that there really wasnít a local business model that provided what I needed. There were a few guys locally installing solar panels, but none of them were really inclined to focus on the homeowner and provide me with an open communication and dialogue which is what I needed. I didnít know anything about the topic.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† And so in that way I think I found a niche, an area that was of interest to me. And so I decided to pursue what I felt was an important business model that wasnít being serviced in my area.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† So I ended up teaching in the public school classroom for 12 years. I did find myself doing a lot more babysitting than teaching in the end. And so I quit my job to pursue my solar business full time.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† And I agree that itís very true that many of the green job professions require us to do a lot of education along the way because people are not necessarily familiar with what they see as new technologies and new ways of doing business.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† So my background has made me feel especially well suited to that aspect of my work and educating.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† I regularly work to educate not just homeowners, but local building officials, building inspectors, electrical inspectors, and even legislators at the State Capital and in Washington.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† I got my business set up with me, with my one partner who is my boyfriend. And we worked nights and weekends to get things started. Primarily we started by doing a lot of free educational seminars to teach the public about solar power.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† And in that way we were able to get some customer leads, based on our willingness to clearly educate.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† One thing that was really helpful was during the summer when I wasnít teaching I was able to take classes to advance my education. And having the one partner was really helpful to letting one of us quit the day job and focus on the business which ended up to be me quitting the day job first.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† And my partner maintained his day job initially which was an easy way to pay the bills that first year.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† So in that way I was able to avoid taking out any loans. We lived as simply as we could and we invested our time and money in the topic which we were enjoying anyway.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† One thing I think that makes my story different than some is that I had zero experience with my chosen field. Growing up I was really an academic student and a music major. And I didnít spend any time learning things about tools or anything like that. So I really was starting from square one in that regard in the construction industry.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† I took my initial photovoltaic design and installation course, as well as my advanced photovoltaic course, at a organization called Solar Energy International which is SEI, the acronym, in Paonia, Colorado because they are nationally recognized and there wasnít really a lot going on in my area as far as solar education. [Editorís Note:See http://www.solarenergy.org/ for more information]

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† And so this non profit organization was really I felt a good example of walking the talk on sustainable living and that was really appealing to me.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† They happened to have a womenís only hands-on course which was a perfect start for me. You can imagine if the room was filled with 30 co-ed students and two in the middle of the room which students would be most inclined to work with the tools.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† And so I felt that by choosing a womenís only course I wouldnít have to worry about that issue. There were a few women with more tools experience than me. But, I found that women tend to work cooperatively and they are happy to share information with one another.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† So taking this class was really a marvelous opportunity for me and a really good way to get started in a positive way.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Since then Iíve found that a lot of times women are worried about asking silly questions. And I never hear a man say oh, I hope this isnít a silly question. So I felt that that camaraderie with other women was really helpful for me.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† So when I got back from my course I was really excited about what Iíve learned. And the first thing I did was go to my local building department. And I went in and sat with a building official and described the business model that I was hoping to set up to be a solar installer.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† And I asked them what I would need from their perspective as far as certification. And solar is kind of like new technology in Minnesota. And so they really had no idea. And I described some more what I thought I would be doing and they said oh, youíre going to be on the roof? That means youíll be considered a roofer. And youíll be putting up solar electric panels? That means we consider you an electrician. And if you are a roofer and an electrician that means you would be a general contractor.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† So in Minnesota, itís not true everywhere, but in Minnesota my business model requires a general contractors license. And so I got online and was able to find a self study course which is basically audio lessons on CDs that came with the textbook so I purchased that online.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† And I listened and learned while I used the treadmill, while I cleaned the house, while I drove in the car. And I just kept listening to those CDs and referencing in the textbook to learn as much as I could about building code.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† And after about six months of self study, I took a computer based test at a local testing facility and I walked out and they handed me my certificate that I had passed the general contractorís test.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† So that was really exciting for me. I called my parents right away and we went out to lunch to celebrate. But it was a huge road for me because I didnít know anything about (unintelligible) screws and torque wrenches and things like that.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† So I think in looking back, the biggest help that I received in getting started in this new business was having a partner who shared my passion. And because we enjoyed spending time together my partner didnít mind working nights and weekends on the business. We were pursuing a topic that we were both very passionate about and so working long hours was actually fulfilling instead of really work.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† And it ended up to be super helpful to have another person that helped me maintain my focus and get the business up and running without having to take on any debt.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† And also together we were able to simplify our expenses so that I could pursue the business full time while he stayed working at first. He ended up quitting his job last fall. And the depths of when a lot of businesses were struggling, I couldnít keep up, we are so busy. So thatís a really great thing and now weíre working full time together.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† I found myself asking a lot of questions of the local authorities like the building officials - other experts in the field. So one suggestion, I always carry a notebook with me. And I take notes so I can remember their answers to my questions and any suggestions they have for pursuing research later on.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Basically some lessons I learned about being an entrepreneur I see two really big reasons to start a new business. One would be if you have a strong talent or a passion for something that you really enjoy.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† And the second would be if you have an interest in something and you notice that itís not currently being served. Like for example, when I go to a home to do a solar installation, lots of times you come across things and say wow, I wish someone would make this or design this, or invent this.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† And so that is a niche and itís not currently being served. And so if you can find a business model that you think needs to be filled and you have an interest there, itís a perfect reason to start a business.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† But in my case I saw a niche in the marketplace and it prompted me to pursue starting a solar business. I knew it was important, I was passionate about it. And so I was happy to pursue teaching people about solar power.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Knowledge is the first step, so the more I could learn the more I could teach people. It had a big impact on them wanting to change their own behavior. So, being a teacher and having the inclination to enjoy contact with people was really helpful.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Sometimes it was really challenging starting up a new business because there are lots of legal requirements and local requirements, a lot of red tape that sometimes seemed silly.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† So I think if there are any local chapters of national organizations and they can be contacted - like for example, there is an American Solar Energy Society and they have a chapter in Minnesota. So it helps me to have colleagues and local people that can help answer questions and encourage me in my pursuit. [Editorís Note:See http://www.ases.org/ for more information]

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† I would definitely encourage - recommend people to ask lots of questions. I try to follow up as much as I can, thanking people for their help. A lot of times itís quick for people to complain about something, but very rare for people to follow up and thank people for help.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† And one time I had a - I got a bill for a fine from the IRS which it wasnít deserved but, I didnít - itís a scary thing to get a letter from the IRS.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† And so, I called up the number and spent some time on the phone with the woman trying to clear up why they had sent it. And she was really patient and really helpful.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† And so afterwards wrote a letter and sent it to the IRS office and copied her thanking her for taking the time to help me as a small business owner.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† So I think those kinds of things, being helpful and kind and respectful to other people has always helped me get help when I needed it.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† And every once in a while I come across someone who is just downright crabby no matter what, I find that usually a smile and a friendly attitude can soften them and they are more than willing to be helpful when I need it.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† So Iíve found that being up front with people and ethical, sometimes even generous in the way I do business with colleagues and customers, people tend to know that I have their best interest at heart, and they know that I care about them. And thatís really helped me to grow my business very quickly.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† So we are starting our fourth year. And in just that short time I am proud to say that we are now one of the top solar installers in the State of Minnesota and recommended by the state offices by building officials and even utilities send customers our way.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† So, itís been a really fun experience. Lot of hours, lots of late hours. But if you choose something you love than you donít mind spending time doing it.

 

Colleen Graber:††††† Thank you very much Rebecca. And also to Laura for sharing your personal experiences about being a green entrepreneur and representing different types of stories out there.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† I noticed a couple of things as weíve had the presentations that I just wanted to point out and stress. Laura, Julie, and Rebecca all mentioned that really women can come into a situation to consider entrepreneurship as an employment opportunity, as a way to become self sufficient by transferring knowledge from existing work experiences, life experiences that theyíve had.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† And so sometimes basing it on a personal interest and exploring what that means, like Rebecca did. Or, moving on from other kinds of situations where you might have a smaller experience and then blossoming out into something a little more grand.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Also the idea that sometimes women focused training is a benefit for women who are particularly going into something thatís a non traditional occupation that helps them being comfortable with the topics and get acclimated in a way that is not discomforting, and also having some peer support there.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Also I appreciate Laura and Rebecca sharing of their experiences because it does show that obstacles can be overcome and entrepreneurship may seem like a big challenge but that that is possible for many people if they find their niche that is right for them.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Cathy - the operator...

 

Coordinator:†††††††††† Yes.

 

Colleen Graber:††††† Could you please remind us how to ask questions.

 

Coordinator:†††††††††† I sure will. If you would ask a question please press star 1. To withdraw your question it is star 2. Again that is star 1. And it does take a couple moments for the first question.

 

Colleen Graber:††††† Thank you. Weíll take questions for the remaining period of the teleconference.

 

Coordinator:†††††††††† Okay and we do have a question (Olivia Whence), your line is open.

 

(Olivia Whence):†††† Well thank you very much to all the speakers for all the information you have given so far.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† I have a little bit of familiarity with solar energy paneling. And I think my question was are there any other fields that are not so construction related that are I guess energy friendly that you could recommend?

 

Colleen Graber:††††† Does anyone want to address that?...

 

Sara Manzano-DŪaz:†††† I am sorry, this is Sara Manzano-DŪaz the Director of the Womenís Bureau.

 

(Olivia Whence):†††† Yes.

 

Sara Manzano-DŪaz:†††† One of the interesting things about green jobs for example itís very broad in terms of what it is. So for example, you could do weatherization and just taking that which requires less skills and manufacturing letís say solar panels. You can do letís say, reconvert - retrofitting a building so that the building is green in terms of that type of green construction.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† You can also if you are a manager, you could be a manager of a green company. So if you are a professional you can work for a green company and whether it is HR or whether itís in any other management function you know, you can do waste management, you can do - there is all kind - agricultural, the variety is very great.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† The interesting thing is that we have - the reason why we are creating this guide quite frankly is because people are saying what is green, and how can I get a piece of this action - I mean.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† But you know, the interesting thing is that you know, this particular session was about how to create a green business. But in the other sessions we talked about green jobs.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† But so for example, if you want to sell green products for example, that is one way if you want to - and that would be more entrepreneurial. But like - let me see, I think the big thing for us is with whatever skills that you have, green is good for you. You know what Iím saying?

 

(Olivia Whence):†††† Mm-hm.

 

Sara Manzano-DŪaz:†††† Because it gives you an opportunity to earn better wages because we already know that those jobs will be higher paying jobs in the 21st Century.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† You can do - letís say if you are an electrician that is one way you can go into green job training. If you are, I donít know, I donít know, itís like any type of work skills that you have there is green availability.

 

Julie Castro Adams:††††† Well.

 

Sara Manzano-DŪaz:†††† Go ahead.

 

Julie Castro Adams:††††† Hi, well you asked about energy in particular I donít know if you meant energy or if you just kind of meant green. But I think one of the things that I - that I loved about the introductory speaker was that you can be the person who manufactures the things yourself - like does it.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Or, you can be somewhere else in the supply chain it doesnít have - you can just be the one who hires or finds the people - the companies that do that and you become the intermediary or you become the Web portal for the best green products.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Or, you become you know, get into green investing which doesnít even mean you have to have your own money you just get - you figure out how you can play a role in that.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† But I think like Sara was talking about you need to figure out what are your skills - what do you love to do and then let us figure out in the sort of map in the whole marketplace you could fit like you figure out where you can get in because there are places to get in today.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† You know, itís interesting I was just talking to someone in healthcare and I said oh, well itís going to be while before a number of these things take hold - right, she is at Blue Shield. And she said, actually in order to show good faith a whole bunch of the companies including Blue Shield are trying to get ahead and implement all of these things really fast.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† And so I think getting yourself poised so that as these legislative changes happen and different things happen you are ready to run, because people will all of the sudden have a mandate and theyíll be ready to run and you will be in a position to get big, big contracts.

 

Sara Manzano-DŪaz:†††† So for example if you have - if you like working with your hands you can be a home installer. Or, if you like recycling you could be involved with a recycling business or supervisory recycling business.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† You can set collection schedules, you can do indoor green jobs, or outdoor green jobs. The beauty of it is that it is so vast that depending on the level of skill you have you can definitely find a green job.

 

(Olivia Whence):†††† Okay, thank you very much.

 

Colleen Graber:††††† Thank you for your question.

 

Coordinator:†††††††††† Thank you. Our next question comes from (Kathy Neckerd). Your line is open.

 

(Kathy Neckerd):†† Thank you. I have three questions actually. Iím wondering if Julie could give us the Web site for womenís - the Womenís Initiative Group that she is part of?

 

Julie Abrams:††††††††† Yes. Itís http://www.womensinitiative.org .

 

(Kathy Neckerd):†† Okay.

 

Julie Abrams:††††††††† And in Spanish itís http://www.minegocito.org/spanish/

 

(Kathy Neckerd):†† Thank you on that. Iím wondering if Laura and Rebecca have ever employed any women through on the job - have done on the job trainings with any women, or would consider that for the future?

 

Laura Culin:††††††††††† This is Laura and I will tell you yes thatís where I joined forces, Iím also on the Community College Construction Advisory Board. We have a Gateway program that is a five week program that is free.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Once you get involved in that program - we probably have 15 women a year that graduate from this and we do a full graduation ceremony at the end. But you learn - men and women learn all aspects of construction within a five week program.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† At the end of the five weeks, at the end of the graduation I have the women that have gone through the course come to me. And I do this on my own but I just have them come in, do a mock interview, see what they are interested in.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† And through or my women in construction group association I set up interviews. Say you were interested in the HVAC and you wanted to take it another step, so I call up one of my ladies ask them you know, can you interview whether you are hiring or not. Take this a step further.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† I am so small, I cannot hire, but I can - plus list some of the little interesting pitfalls that Iíve gone through. But I can at least gear - I want to keep peopleís mind excited about staying in construction.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† So focus if that is really what you want. You may speak to these other ladies and say hey, you know that maybe that is not the avenue I want to go. But I was also interested in say home inspections. So Iíll set you up with somebody at the City of Austin and they can tell you about what that job entails.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† So I do that on the side. I am also involved with American YouthWorks that helps train and I hire men and women out of that and take it a step farther. [Editorís Note:See http://www.americanyouthworks.org/ for more information]

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† So yes, I like to encourage I think that is where we need to pull from as the young ones coming up in this industry. And I feed off of them too.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† So yes, I definitely encourage - I mean if I could I would probably be 100% woman owned lumber company, forklift the whole nine yards. Right now itís not doable. But yes, I love it.

 

(Kathy Neckerd):†† Thank you.

 

Rebecca Lundberg: And this is Rebecca in my case, my work response rate is really high. And my insurance company doesnít want anything like volunteers on the job site.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† And also some of the funding helps homeowners pay for solar comes from federal funds. And so they are some unique challenges right now in my particular area with the unions and other people not really wanting anyone on the job site that isnít getting paid a pretty high prevailing wage.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† So itís challenging for me to have interns and things like that. But I work through our local American Fuel and Energy Society Chapters Minnesota Renewable Energy Society to help educate people about solar power and give them an opportunity through trade shows and little training classes and things like that to ask question and get as much hands on as they can.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† And hopefully when things like community solar projects start opening up the fields then Iíll have more freedom to invite people on to the jobsite like that.

 

(Kathy Neckerd):†† Thank you excellent. And my last question, will there be more teleconferences in this series?

 

Colleen Graber:††††† Yes, this is Colleen there are a total of 7 planned.

 

(Kathy Neckerd):†† Okay.

 

Colleen Graber:††††† And this is the second so we are planning them through August.

 

(Kathy Neckerd):†† Okay, great thank you.

 

Colleen Graber:††††† Keep checking back at the Womenís Bureau Web site for the new dates.

 

(Kathy Neckerd):†† All right thank you.

 

Colleen Graber:††††† Thank you.

 

Coordinator:†††††††††† Thank you (Kathy). Our next question comes from (Patricia Tabbott) your line is open.

 

(Patricia Tabbott):†† Thank you very much, this has been very informative. And I had two questions.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† One was, I wrote down three certifications that you mentioned one was the small business, one was woman owned, and the other was minority owned.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† My first question is have you ever printed these like on your letterhead or your business cards? And if so, having this publicly stated ever been a hindrance to job opportunities that you have tried to bid for or acquire?

 

Rebecca Lundberg: This is Rebecca. And I could answer that (Patricia). We donít have it printed on letterhead. Although I intend to put it on my Web site as soon as I can catch up with my paperwork.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† But it being certified in my state puts me on a list of certified women owned business for example. And there is a lot on encouragement for larger contractors to reach out and use smaller disadvantaged business enterprises. So I get asked to bid on more projects because of this.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† And there is an allowance for me not to have to be the lowest bidder when I carry these certifications they are allowed to accept a bidder that has a little higher rate just in case my small business size doesnít let me come in as low as some of those other big guys.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† So, it definitely can have positive things when Iím listed on Web sites for being solar installer a lot of homeowners will call me because Iím the only woman on the list.

 

Laura Culin:††††††††††† And (Patricia), yes Iíd like to add to that. If youíll check out the front of my Web site www.austinlumber.com you can actually print out my certifications there because my GCís need that to turn in.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† So I mean you take the time and effort, youíre audited every single year as a minority owned or a small business owned or disadvantaged owned business.

 

(Patricia Tabbott):†† Yes.

 

Laura Culin:††††††††††† You are audited every year and if youíve got those certification we have to meet percentage in Texas. And definitely on my job sites you have to meet a percentage goal of a woman owned company or a small business owned company on these job sites that I do. I do commercial jobs.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† We were on the Governorís Mansion for one that just burned down recently. Take full advantage of that. Go to the City of Austin has - or the city - your city and look into the small business development program. Itís very - that was one of those mistakes I wanted to prove myself as a woman and did not get certified first.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Please get certified first, and then prove yourself on your morals and your passion for what you do.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† So, if youíve got it go through all of it I say splatter it everywhere and be proud of it.

 

(Patricia Tabbott):†† Okay Iím a Certified Grant Writer.

 

Laura Culin:††††††††††† Okay well prove it. I mean show it. Be proud of it.

 

(Patricia Tabbott):†† Yes, anyone on the line need money?

 

Laura Culin:††††††††††† Always - hey.

 

(Patricia Tabbott):†† It is there for the taking.

 

Laura Culin:††††††††††† I need it.

 

(Patricia Tabbott):†† Thank you.

 

Colleen Graber:††††† Thank you. Can we have the next question please.

 

Coordinator:†††††††††† Yes. (Brenda LaClair) your line is open.

 

(Brenda LaClair):††† Yes, thank you very much ladies this has been wonderful. Iím actually an owner of a green technologies company. And it is a home based business. So everything that you were saying as far as feeling like one could be limited by whether it be disabilities, income, their situation at home with a lot of children. Or anything like that - an illness it can be overcome.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† And I do - Julie have opportunities available for women with my company. So if anybody is interested I can also give you my email address and we can discuss that way.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† My second question would be on these certifications Laura you had mentioned are those state or are they federal?

 

Laura Culin:††††††††††† Again - this is Laura. I have the state ones and I also have federal. I have both. Small Business Administration is a great place to lock into - that can give you those words or go to your local city and they can tell you which certifications you need in your state.HUB is a Historically Underutilized Business. It is a federal certification. And then like I said Iím also FSC which is pertaining - if youíre into green build itís Forest Stewardship Council, itís an international governed entity. So, you can do it at any level whether city, state, federal or international.

 

(Brenda LaClair):††† Will all those sites to look at that will that be on the Web site for the Department of Labor for Women?

 

Laura Culin:††††††††††† It could be somebody else might be better at answering that. Or just as I said my email is www.austinlumber.com - my Web site - go click on there and send me your question and Iíll track it for you. For your area.

 

Colleen Graber:††††† Thank you.

 

(Brenda LaClair):††† And where would be the appropriate place to get information to the people who are looking to get into a business of their own or to work for one?

 

Karen Shapiro:†††††† This is Karen at the Womenís Bureau I just wanted to point out a couple of references that are going to be - that are part of the fact sheet, but theyíll also be part of the guide and we will have links to information on the Womenís Bureau Web site.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† But the Small Business Administration, Small Business Development Centers has resources for new and current small business owners. And then the Small Business Administration also has an Office of Womenís Business Ownership which links to local womenís business centers. So you might be able to look there to see if there is a center by you that you could talk with about starting a business. All of those - both of those links or organizations that I just gave are at www.sba.gov. And you can kind of click through to find their different offices. So - but again, that will be part of the references and the fact sheet that you got or, that will be on the Web site.

 

(Brenda LaClair):††† Thank you.

 

Colleen Graber:††††† Thank you. Yes Iím just adding like Karen said there are many resources that we are including in the guide and the fact sheets, different varieties of issues that have to do, in this case with entrepreneurship. Where to get assistance how to understand the financing concerns, a whole variety of things - women business owner organizations, those kinds of things.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† So there are lots of resources for women who are interested in starting a business. Itís a matter of getting connected to the right set of resources in your local area.

 

Colleen Graber:††††† Is there another question?

 

Coordinator:†††††††††† Yes, (Patricia OíConnor) your line is open.

 

(Patricia OíConnor):†††† Thank you, hello ladies thank you very much for the information that you have given us. Iím interested in knowing about green as far as textiles. Iím recently taking a session and a woman had mentioned fiber I found out she was referring to paper and plastic.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† But it piqued my interest. I presently have a homerun - home business I create and design bead work - custom pieces. And from that when fiber came up I thought it must be something out there and if so where to find out about green textiles, recycling of textiles and such.

 

Colleen Graber:††††† This is Colleen again. That sounds like a really interesting idea and I donít personally have a lot of information on that particular part of the industry. I have seen a little bit with recycling wool. And making that into new products from existing and also repurposing clothing that is no longer of use to people. But I would suggest an internet search and also looking into organizations that focus on textiles.

 

Julie Castro Abrams:†††† Hey itís Julie Castro Abrams, yes you are absolutely right. I mean a ton of people are doing great businesses where they are taking you know, old ties and turning them into skirts and vests and things like that.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† So there is actually a huge industry in San Francisco - people who are repurposing and reusing.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† But there is also some companies - and I think you should just be bold and get out there and ask. Leviís for example - Levi Strauss & Company asked us to figure out how to get all - a bunch of their leftover scraps from their production and particularly their denim. And how Ėto be able to reuse - you have somebody repurpose and reuse that so that they donít have to throw it into a landfill.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† And then of course that they are actually a number of different ways that textiles that are created that are both - the way that the textiles are created is green. Or, that people are working internationally to make sure that they are sourcing from locations that have livable wages and/or even working with indigenous people.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† So I just think that it either depends on exactly what you are trying to accomplish in that - in what you are committed to.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† But I think that there are - there is such a movement towards this right now I think that you might find some new opportunities that could be a big boom for you in terms of companies that are trying to make sure that they can get - that they are having less of a footprint. And you can take advantage of that.

 

(Patricia OíConnor):†††† Okay (unintelligible) fantastic manufacturing companies.

 

Laura Culin:††††††††††† Yes. I would like to ask something as you all weíre talking with the construction. But we carry here cotton insulation like youíre talking about made from recycled blue jeans.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† You wouldnít think - we use it for insulation comes in (vats). So we use 100% recycle blue jeans itís made in a cotton fiber and use for insulation purposes.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† So, youíre textile background can go through many changes or many different avenues but we do - the only kind of insulation that we sell here at Austin Lumber. So hatís off to you.

 

Rebecca Lundberg: This is Rebecca I could comment on that as well. I think you could learn some things - I know locally there are two really large sporting industry stores that boast about repurposing things like fleece clothing or wool clothing.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† One of them takes shoes and recycles the shoes and makes other products with - you could learn from their advertising what things are important to people. And there are a couple of different aspects to that.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† For example, homeowners are interested in the environmental processes that are used in making some of these textiles. Like bamboo tends to be a very chemical process but it comes from a sustainable growth product and organic cotton for example you could do some research on that.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† And consumers are interested from the aspect of chemical content in their homes, the topic or volatile organic compound same as paint.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† So as you do some research on what is going on you might be able to find what kind of area you are most interested in pursuing.

 

Colleen Graber:††††† Thank you.

 

(Patricia OíConnor):†††† Very interesting.

 

Colleen Graber:††††† Lots of resources for you there.

 

(Patricia OíConnor):†††† Thatís fine, definitely can look into that. Also, you had mentioned at the beginning that the - you already had one teleconference. This is my first teleconference. Iíd be interested to know the Web site to go to for that.

 

Colleen Graber:††††† Sure. Karen you want to give her the Womenís Bureau site.

 

Karen Shapiro:†††††† Itís www.dol.gov/wb thatís for Department of Labor, Womenís Bureau.

 

Colleen Graber:††††† And all of the [teleconferences] and materials, the fact sheets, will be posted there as well as transcripts of each of the telephone conferences, so all the material if you happen to miss one will be posted there.

 

(Patricia OíConnor):†††† That is excellent. I passed on this teleconference information. Iím presently taking a class out of New York Technology Institute. And itís The Womenís Pathway Project. And itís been offered to women that are out of work and that are looking to get into the green industries and green technology. So weíre pushing to have more women in this industry.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† And one other question which may or may not be able to get an answer, Iím finding that I want to be in the renewable energy sustainable energy field. I have sent my background is in sales and marketing professional.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† As I mentioned before Iím doing an at home business until I find my niche in the environment. And with that trying to go to networking meetings to meet people that can give me further access to this. Iím coming across - I donít want to necessarily come across as a sales and marketing professional. I want it to come across more than Iím interested in renewable/sustainable fields.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Any suggestion on what I can put on a business card for a networking endeavor to pursue having my own business or connecting with people to thrive in their business?

 

Julie Castro Abrams:†††† Hi itís Julie the most important thing my dear is you need to just say that you are - seriously. I am in the renewable energy business, that is what I am doing. And whether youíve done anything yet or not, just say it. There is no business police that are going to say whether or not youíve done enough business or youíre at the right stage to be able to claim it. Just claim it. Say you are, what you want to be.

 

(Patricia OíConnor):†††† Excellent. Thank you very much ladies.

 

Colleen Graber:††††† Thank you for your question.

 

Coordinator:†††††††††† Thank you. (Denise Peak) your line is open.

 

(Denise Peak):††††††† Thank you. Good afternoon ladies. You all have amazing stories. I do business plan development training here in Lansing, Michigan. And I guess my question is for you Colleen.

 

Colleen Graber:††††† Yes.

 

(Denise Peak):††††††† Do you have any data that charts the trends within the industries? Or, which sectors are the most likely to have the most growth potential.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Because for me I could actually create a business plan development training centered around those particular sectors and create pathways like business plan training and things like that and show them how to get registered and so on and forth.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† But I need to know which sectors are - have the most growth potential.

 

Colleen Graber:††††† Okay. I have one piece of data for you and itís not as current as I would like it to be. But itís been estimated that woman owned firms are diversifying in certain industries. And there are seeing fastest growth - and this was prior to 2004 - in construction, transportation, communications and public utilities, and then agricultural services.

 

(Denise Peak):††††††† Okay.

 

Colleen Graber:††††† You know a lot of the - as you know, the economic demand varies depending on what region of the country youíre in and the time period that you are in. For you here in Michigan, because weíre also in Lansing, you may check out the Department of Energy Labor and Economic Growth. Here in the State of Michigan they put out a Green Economy Report. And I believe also the - that capital area of Michigan Works also has their own reports for this particular area.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† And weíve seen other state level reports about where their green growth is. And so more and more states are taking a look at that based on their own workforce data and business data.

 

(Denise Peak):††††††† And I just wanted to say to all the ladies youíve done an awesome job at your businesses and stuff. And to Julie Abrams - Julie my hatís off to you.

 

Julie Abrams:††††††††† Yes, thank you.

 

(Denise Peak):††††††† I do career development so I know, you know.

 

Julie Abrams:††††††††† Gotcha. Okay.

 

(Denise Peak):††††††† But ladies youíve all done an awesome job. So thank you so much.

 

Colleen Graber:††††† Thank you. Operator - (Cathy) how many people do we have left in the question queue.

 

Coordinator:†††††††††† You still have six.

 

Colleen Graber:††††† Okay. Well I think we have one or two more depending on the length of the question and responses - so.

 

Coordinator:†††††††††† Okay.

 

Colleen Graber:††††† The next one.

 

Coordinator:†††††††††† Okay (Mark Sino) your line is open.

 

(Mark Sino):†††††††††† Oh great. This question is directed to Director Sara Manzano-DŪaz. I discovered a way to change the fundamentals of the way the painting industry operates which is male-dominated.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† And in the process of this discovery - this new business model I invented a green collar job which can possibly create about 3,500 green collar jobs within one year.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Is there anyway I can meet with you to discuss this and explain how women can be on the forefront on this change. And how you can possibly help facilitate this change?

 

Sara Manzano-DŪaz:†††† Now this is very interesting. Youíve discovered a way to create green jobs in what type of industry?

 

(Mark Sino):†††††††††† It is the painting industry.

 

Sara Manzano-DŪaz:†††† So - and you can create that many jobs within your industry?

 

(Mark Sino):†††††††††† Within one year 3,500 give or take maybe couple hundred here or there either more or less. And it depends on how much you can help by facilitating some negotiations with major business - major paint organizations and major paint manufacturers. So I donít know how much you can help, but it depends on the help that you can provide for me to make this change.

 

Sara Manzano-DŪaz:†††† But - so are you saying in front of everybody in this phone that youíre committed to hiring all these women to work for you?

 

(Mark Sino):†††††††††† Not work for me - well work.

 

Sara Manzano-DŪaz:†††† But to partner with you?

 

(Mark Sino):†††††††††† It depends on how much you can help facilitate this change. Iíd have to explain it to you. But yes, there is 3,500 jobs out there right now that women could be doing in this nation. And nobody is doing anything about it right now. And Iíd have to explain that to you, like the particulars. And Iím afraid for it to get out because business, big industries doesnít want this to happen.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Because remember, itís male dominated - and I am a male, itís ironic. But, Iíd have to explain how I came to this.

 

Sara Manzano-DŪaz:†††† But what you are saying to me is that with this business model you want to help women become part of the green sector?

 

(Mark Sino):†††††††††† Exactly. They can - you know, like...

 

Sara Manzano-DŪaz:†††† Are they going to partner with you or how - in what ways will women be part of your business model?

 

(Mark Sino):†††††††††† As a group networking.

 

Julie Castro Abrams:†††† Hmm. Multi layer marketing?

 

(Mark Sino):†††††††††† I guess it depends on semantics, how you pose that - you know, how I answer that question. I have to get that more thought because that - you just caught me off guard with that one. Iíd...

 

Sara Manzano-DŪaz:†††† You know what you do, if you can send your - an outline of your business plan to Ms. Karen Shapiro. We will look at it and then determine whether or not we are the correct people to talk to or maybe someone over at SBA might be appropriate - okay.

 

(Mark Sino):†††††††††† Yes. Iíve been involved with SBA and Iíll send you the business plan. But there is parts of it that I leave out only for the fear of a barrier being created to block this. But this is very possible.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† So I will send you the business plan. But you have to remember that there is a lot between the lines that I canít release because big business doesnít want this to happen. Thatís why its been male dominated for so many years - this industry.

 

Sara Manzano-DŪaz:†††† Thank you so much. Bye-bye.

 

Colleen Graber:††††† Thanks (Mark) for your input.

 

(Mark Sino):†††††††††† Thank you.

 

Colleen Graber:††††† I think we have time for one more question.

 

Coordinator:†††††††††† Okay, thank you. (Alyssa Miranda) your line is open.

 

(Alyssa Miranda):†† Yes thank you. Thank you so much for sharing all your stories Iím a little bit nervous. Iím not familiar with entrepreneurship at all. Iím actually a coordinator for an employment program here at a non profit organization in Seattle.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† And just listening to your stories which is - I mean amazing and to be able to communicate that the abilities and the resources out there for clients - participants that would walk in through our doors would be amazing.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† But in particularly I clung to Julieís story. And as they were talking I checked out the Web site - Womenís Initiative - and I was just - I was taken back by the amount of resources that you provide to women of color, low income single parents, and Spanish speakers which is something that I donít see a lot of.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† And when discussions start happening around entrepreneurship the resources to provide a lot of my participants who are Spanish speaking single mothers - a big majority of them are, itís hard to be able to provide resources for them to get into that field.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† So I was hoping maybe Julie if you might shed some light of sister organizations in the Northwest that you know that I can probably - that I can possibly turn to for guidance or support.

 

Julie Castro Abrams:†††† You know there is a womenís - our organization has three grants from the SBA through a program called the Womenís Business Centers. And so I think the first thing I would suggest is you just - quick do a search and see if there is a womenís business center in Washington or Seattle.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† That said Iíll tell you that Womenís Initiative weíre the largest micro enterprise training organization in the US. And weíre pretty unique and Iíve kind of gotten a certain scale and ability to ramp up you know, I love that you said what you said because I think Sara - sorry Sara, weíre all asking you for your leadership here. But Iím going to ask you as well.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† For Latinaís there are working under the table for cash wages they are not moving up the ladder. And this is a viable option for them where job training - there are some job training programs that can work for our community. But really, truly itís entrepreneurship that is how they are actually make real money.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† I mean we have - I cannot tell you how many examples of you know, women with an eighth grade education and very little English they are making a quarter million dollars employing other people and sending their daughters to college.

 

Sara Manzano-DŪaz:†††† What region - where are you at in the nation?

 

Julie Castro Abrams:†††† Well weíre in the Northern California and 14 locations. But we actually have a - (Gabriela Lamas) and I have - been meeting for a couple of months now. We have a plan to ramp up across the country, but need support and partnership with you. And...

 

Sara Manzano-DŪaz:†††† Absolutely. Iím not sure if this is the same thing that (Gabby) was- excuse me, that Dr. (Lamas) was talking to me about.

 

Julie Castro Abrams:†††† Yes, it is.

 

Sara Manzano-DŪaz:†††† But - is that about micro lending?

 

Julie Castro Abrams:†††† That is exactly right, micro lending and support.

 

Sara Manzano-DŪaz:†††† Yes weíve been talking about it internally it is something that I would like to discuss further. And as I understand it (Gabby) is trying to set up a meeting to facilitate that.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† So I donít want to take up other peopleís time that is on this call for that. But just to know that she has been talking to me about it and we are going to try to set up a meeting - okay.

 

Julie Castro Abrams:†††† All right. Thanks.

 

Colleen Graber:††††† Itís time for us to close now and thank you all for contributing your questions. And for those of you who did not get an opportunity to ask a question on the phone, we will be sending you out an email that will allow you to submit any other questions that you may have. And then we will combine those answers and post them on the Womenís Bureau Web site along with some materials that go with this teleconference.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Iíd like to thank all of the participants on todayís call and the attendees for joining us and learning more about entrepreneurship for women in green economy and other opportunities to make that a real viable important contribution for women into the economy.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Itís an important opportunity for women and has been discussed, it can be a way for women who have been marginalized or at some sort of disadvantage to really make a good living and have a good life.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† So thank you very much for participating today. And we hope that you will join us for our next teleconference.

 

Coordinator:†††††††††† And this concludes todayís conference. Thank you for your participation. At this time you may disconnect your line.

 

 

END