The Green Enterprise Initiative
A partnership to revitalize Santa Cruz

The overall goal of the Green Enterprise Initiative is to harness the research potential and social dynamism of the university community, and to focus it on a green vision for the city of Santa Cruz.  We feel that by working directly with the business community and local government we can effectively promote a range of green enterprises, including industry, commerce, services, agriculture and knowledge production.  We beleive that Santa Cruz can build on its existing advantages and enterprises to become a focus for a wide range of sustainable new initiatives.  The city needs to increase its revenue base, and is currently seeking ideas for a 10-year strategic enterprise plan.  The faculty, students and staff of the University have research, energy, and creative ideas about how that plan could advance sustainable production for the betterment of the local communtiy.   We hope that our knowledge that could feed into this process and have a positive impact on both the local economy and the local environment.

It is our understanding that the best solution to the environmental crisis we are currently facing and those we will soon face is to construct an alternative economy based on values of sustainability and low-impact production.  In order for this alternative economy to succeed, it must be competitive with environmentally-destructive industries.  Thus, such projects need funding in their primary stages to help gain equal footing with larger, dirtier industries.  The City-University partnership, in conjunction with corporate and nonprofit organizations, is currently seeking economic development funding to support the initiative.

Who we are:

The initial group of faculty working on this Green Enterprise Initiative is listed below.  In addition, there is a significant level of enthusiasm and commitment amongst undergraduate and graduate students.

Mike Rotkin City Council and Community Studies

Paul Lubeck Sociology

Ben Crow Sociology

John Isbister Economics, and a founder of the Santa Cruz Credit Union

David Goodman Environmental Studies

Melanie Dupuis Sociology

Andy Szasz Sociology

Brent Haddad Environmental Studies

Alan Richards Environmental Studies and Economics

Two students are currently working on the initiative: Benjamin Short (udergraduate, Sociology), Virginia Jameson (undergraduate).

Goal of the Initiative:

The University of California-City of Santa Cruz Green Enterprise Initiative seeks to help revitalize the city and its region through a partnership to research and promote sustainable production, services, and commerce.

The partnership will promote viable enterprises building on the comparative advantages of the city, the region, and the enterprises and people therein.  The work of the Initiative will assist the City in preparing its 10 Year Enterprise Plan.

Enterprises for early study:

Several enterprise opportunities deserve early study because they might generate useful outcomes on a scale of months and years.  Innovations and enterprise opportunities with longer gestation may deserve exploration for later years of the 10 Year Enterprise Plan.

Expansion of summer schools at UCSC for education and research in sustainable production and commerce.  With one of the most beautiful campuses in the world, situated by a pre-eminent tourist location in California, the University has unrivaled position and facilities for workshops and conferences, and considerable expertise in ideas of environmental studies, sustainable agriculture, sustainable development and the historical and economic analysis of sustainability.  Summer schools can make money, spread ideas, and generate economic activity.  UCSC Green Enterprise Summer Schools could become a well-known element of the City-University partnership.

The City of Santa Cruz is currently deciding what to do its remaining industrial space.  We beleive that the best possible use of this space is to create an eco-industrial park.  This park would manufacture green products in a sustainable loop process in which the output waste of one company becomes the input materials of another company.

Santa Cruz also has an environmentally conscious consumer base which can support green businesses more than most areas of the United States.  We believe the city could capitalize on this and form a green retail center that provides retail space for small green businesses and start-ups, meeting space for local environmental groups and community forums on environmental issues, and also provides office space for environmental profits, environmental consultants, green investment groups, etc.  This could serve as a hub for the environmental community and would help support the alternative, green economy.

Organic food processing is an obvious possibility for Santa Cruz.  The region has a significant concentration of organic agricultural production.  Food processing is likely to generate more employment and returns than agriculture itself.  The GEI partnership may be able to undertake research that identifies potential product areas and innovative ways to facilitate and support enterprises to make them.

Gray water production and installation: The statewide shortage of water is acute in Santa Cruz.  There are simple technologies which have the potential to re-use gray water for irrigation.  Local manufacturing and installation of such technologies could generate jobs.  Enterprises of this sort might be able to build upon the existing expertise, and networks, of landscape contractors and their largely Hispanic immigrant labor forces.  The GEI partnership could assess what technologies, city and county practices, might be required to facilitate the introduction and manufacture of these gray water technologies.

Santa Cruz is at the center of a collection of national and state parks and tourist destinations with few rivals.  The promotion of sustainable tourism, conferences relating to the problems and possibilities of wildlife facilities, and the making of a global network of parks could become an important enterprise opportunity for Santa Cruz.

The Center for Global, International and Regional Studies has an analysis of the global interconnections required for sustainable industrialization which puts this partnership ahead of similar initiatives elsewhere.  This analysis, built on a plausible historical and conceptual model, illuminates the importance of international connections and innovation on sustainable enterprise in the non-industrial world.  There is this space for administrative, research and enterprise activity which promotes international links between green movements, state regulatory initiatives and the initial commitments to sustainability of corporate enterprise.

Baseline survey of assets:

One of the early tasks of the Green Enterprise Initiative will be to undertake a baseline survey of the comparative advantages of Santa Cruz, and its enterprises, and the research and teaching strengths of the University.  The City, the University and the region have significant existing strengths on which the Initiative can build.

February 2004.