The Future of Business: Conference focuses on coming changes in business world

As he presented his opening words at the start of the Future of Business conference, Jason McLennen said to believe the way business is done would not soon face massive change is pure insanity.

“Huge change is coming,” he said. “Sometimes we have a hard time imagining that.”

McLennen, CEO of the Cascadia Green Building Council, was a keynote speaker for the conference, which took place April 26-27 at Whatcom Community College.

The event, attended by several hundred local business owners and community members, was presented by Sustainable Connections and sponsored in part by the Bellingham Business Journal.

It is a landmark event each year for the nonprofit organization. During the two days of speakers, expert panels and networking sessions, local business owners were given insight into various aspects of business ownership including financing, buying local, retaining top employees and keeping costs low during tough economic times.

Change, and coming change, was a major theme throughout the event, and Sustainable Connections is no stranger to the concept.

The nonprofit organization was founded in April 2002. It’s well-known “buy local” campaign was created one year later to encourage people to buy products from locally owned stores.

Now at its 10-year anniversary, Sustainable Connections is launching a similar movement, called “bank local,” which pitches the value of using local and regional banks and credit unions instead of national chains.

“Those banks will turn that money around to lend to small business owners and our neighbors,” Derek Long, Sustainable Connections’ executive director, said.

Long said creating “radical change” in the world of business would be a long road, but by bringing together sustainable-minded people, it’d be more possible to make it happen.

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