Veterans bus tour promotes alternative energyWritten by Lauren Farnsworth | | email@example.com
Veterans are traveling the country voicing their opinions on clean energy and its relation to national security. Toledo will be the first of five cities visited during the Ohio tour.
The goal is to lower greenhouse gas emissions and promote alternative energy, according to Rachel Margo, legislative director of the Ohio League of Conservation Voters. She is working with the Sierra Club, National Wildlife Foundation and Environmental Defense in a group called Clean Energy Works. Clean Energy Works is helping organize the tour.
The tour is run by Operation Free, “a coalition of veterans who believe that reliance upon foreign oil makes America’s security vulnerable as well as negatively affecting climate change,” Margo said.
“People think about the cost of energy — the lights at their house or the gas in their car, but they don’t think about the security risks we’re taking as a country and how they relate to energy,” Margo said.
Operation Free is being hosted by UT at the Clean and Alternative Energy Incubator. The incubator is a facility that offers assistance to developing energy companies.
“Incubators provide hands-on management assistance, access to financing and exposure to critical business or technical support services. They also offer entrepreneurial firms shared office services, access to equipment, flexible leases and expandable and affordable space — all under one roof,” according to the UT business incubation Web site.
Fifty percent of small businesses fail within the first three to five years, according to the Small Business Administration. The top two reasons are inexperience in management and insufficient capital.
According to Megan Reichert, director of the Clean and Alternative Energy Incubator, 85 percent of businesses that graduate from incubation are successful after five years.
The Clean and Alternative Energy Incubator is fostering 11 businesses.
Even though alternative energy is present in Toledo, it is important to increase awareness.
“A lot of the exports of Toledo are going over to Europe where they’re using clean energy, they’re using solar panels and other options, where here in Ohio we’re still relying on coal,” Margo said.
Operation Free decided to visit Toledo in order to recognize current efforts and inspire the growth of clean and alternative energy.
Margo also spoke favorably of Toledo’s efforts.
“Toledo is doing maybe more than any other city in the state, as far as promoting clean and alternative energy especially with the companies coming out of the University of Toledo,” she said.
According to Margo, many of the businesses that are either in the incubator or that have graduated from the incubator are hiring.
Businesses connected to the incubator have created more than 237 jobs, Reichert said.
“This is an example of a common mission, the alternative energy and solar power particularly are things the university have been intimately involved with for decades now,” said Jon Strunk, media relations manager at UT. “An organization that is working to promote those sorts of alternative energy goals is a natural complement to the University of Toledo’s efforts in that area.”
Other cities included in the Ohio tour are Canton, Cincinnati, Cleveland and Columbus.
The Toledo event will take place March 19 at 10 a.m.
For more information, visit www.operationfree.net.