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Taking care of the environment is no longer a fringe issue

Posted Wednesday, June 29, 2011

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Pittsboro, NC - In Chatham Chatlist #4070, Dan Marley asked, “Does anyone think that these groups: Chatham Citizens for Effective Communities, the Deep River Clean Water Society, the Haw River Assembly, the Friends of the Rocky River and the Sierra Club Orange-Chatham Group … are concerned about the ability of the County to attract high paying industries?”

Why, yes, I do! I absolutely think that. I am a board member of Chatham Citizens for Effective Communities and a supporter of the Haw River Assembly, and I would very much like to see high-paying industries in Chatham County. Industries where people can have real careers, not just jobs. Industries where people feel good about where they work. Industries that want to be good corporate citizens. It’s a false choice to assume that to have good-paying jobs, we have to sacrifice the environment, and many modern, successful companies understand this.

Take SAS, for example, one of the largest employers in the Triangle and chosen for two years in a row as the best place to work in the country by Fortune magazine ( Watch this video of the newest building on the SAS corporate campus.

Why did they do it this way? It’s the right thing to do. But it’s also just good business. Taking care of the environment is no longer a fringe issue for so-called “radical tree-huggers.”

Environmental awareness is now a principle that smart companies are falling all over themselves to brag about. They know that to attract the best customers and the best employees, they need to show a commitment to a smaller environmental footprint and a cleaner world.

Industries like this also know that many of their employees are looking for communities that share their values. They want an attractive place to live and work; excellent schools for their children; clean air and water; parks and recreational opportunities; healthy, sustainably grown food; and rich and diverse cultural experiences. Chatham County is in a unique position to offer all of this and more. Of course, these things require investment and support.

The way we choose to invest our money, along with the guidelines we establish for growth, reflect our values and determine the quality of our future. The county budget and planning and building regulations show us a clear picture of what we really care about and where we’re going. It’s a classic case of “Putting your money where your mouth is.”

If we want to attract responsible, high-paying industries to our county, are we heading in the right direction with the current pared-down budget and “streamlined” environmental rules for development?

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Taking care of the environment is no longer a fringe issue

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