Green Racine 2009 Report





Report of Community-Wide Initiative

Work Plan for Creating Regional Coalition


May 1, 2009


Submitted by Greg Bell

Management Consultant


For The Johnson Foundation

Racine, Wisconsin

Update and Working Plan Development


Green Racine began in its first year as an event-focused, community-wide initiative for green buildings starting with green cleaning. It gained broader interest and definition in its second year when the Sustainable Business Network (SBN) was spun off and a group of community leaders examined the possibility of green economic development for the county.


Green Racine, after a fairly strong start, has now come to another turning point. Green cleaning and the SBN have moved forward, but Green Racine is poised to take on greater initiatives as the community faces choices concerning how to proceed with green collar job creation and green economic development both locally and regionally.


This report offers an update of Green Racine and the goals and activities that were or were not accomplished to date. It also serves as a framework for developing a work plan for moving Green Racine forward.


Actions Steps for Report / Plan Development


  1. Create a Green Racine Work Plan Task Team (now including: Jeff Neubauer, Kranz Inc; Gordy Kacala and Jenny Trick, Racine County Economic Development Corporation; Debbi Embry and Mayor Tom Friedel, City of Racine; Roger Dower, Lynn Broaddus, Carole Johnson and Sarah Wright of The Johnson Foundation; and Greg Bell, management consultant).
  2. Interview members of the committee as well as others including Ben Hughes, formerly of the City of Racine and John Matthews of JohnsonDiversey Inc.
  3. Review relevant materials, proposals and previous reports.
  4. Draft a comprehensive update of the current state of Green Racine. (NOTE: This document serves that purpose.)
  5. Convene a half-day meeting with Work Plan Task Team (Scheduled for March 11, 2009).
  6. Present a complete written work plan for Green Racine including vision, goals, structure, action steps, assignments, timelines and budget considerations following the meeting by the end of March.


A Brief Update on Green Racine


First Year

On April 19, 2007, after several months of preparation, Racine area leaders launched Green Racine, a community-wide initiative promoting green buildings. More than 70 leaders representing about 40 businesses, institutions and nonprofits attended the signing event and half-day workshop on green building/green cleaning at Memorial Hall in downtown Racine. Twenty-six organizations signed the Green Racine proclamation committing to green their buildings by initiating a switch to green cleaning. The proclamation and list of signing organizations is on page 5 of this report.


Media attended the signing ceremony and Racine was touted as “the first community in the nation to embrace an effective, cost-effective, community-wide green cleaning campaign…the first step in creating an on-going, coordinated effort to improve the impact facilities have on health and environment.” The Racine Journal Times, Racine-area radio stations and Milwaukee-area television stations covered the event. Cleaning-industry trade media subsequently picked up the story.


Mayor Gary Becker and County Executive Bill McReynolds were the key leaders of Green Racine. Their willingness to use their positions for the effort, greatly helped motivate other leaders in the community to commit to Green Racine. Jeff Neubauer, chairman and CEO of Kranz Inc, a regional distributor of janitorial products and services, and Greg Bell, former Global Communications Director of JohnsonDiversey Inc, a global provider of cleaning and hygiene products and services, were the primary drivers of participation in Green Racine. Jeff acted through direct contact with area leaders and Greg through event planning and communication support to the mayor and county executive. They aspired to position their companies as leaders in sustainability, drive the green cleaning business and advance green buildings in the Racine community. Kranz and JohnsonDiversey engaged about ten companies of the 30 that eventually signed on to Green Racine in various stages of adapting a five-step green cleaning process.


Organizers made a promise of reporting measurable impact of Green Racine. Jeff tracked completion of the green cleaning program by participating organizations. Greg wrote an anecdotal feature for RAMAC magazine one year after the launch of Green Racine. No formal study of reduced environmental impact (i.e. reduced use of paper products) or effects on health (i.e. reduced asthma incidences) of green cleaning, however, have been reported.

A Brief Update on Green Racine (continued)


Second Year

Early in 2008, Green Racine grew beyond its roots as a facilities-focused initiative as a result of a growing interest of area businesses to learn about the sustainability efforts of other businesses. The Johnson Foundation became engaged in the initiative and convened two important meetings. Top leaders from participating Racine companies were invited to Wingspread in March to learn what each company was doing and discuss possible next steps. In July, the Foundation organized a half-day workshop for leaders at Wingspread.


Two key initiatives resulted:

1) the Sustainable Business Network, now managed as a monthly meeting by Racine Area Manufacturers and Commerce (RAMAC), and

2) interest in developing a green economy for Racine, which has been examined by the Racine County Economic Development Corporation (RCEDC).


The RCEDC took the comments from the July workshop, added their own considerable insight and developed an “Interim Memorandum on a Green Racine Program Initiative,” which was presented to members of the work plan team on October 27, 2008. A summary of their recommendations is on page 6 of this report.


Third Year

Green Racine efforts that have moved forward include green cleaning programs among some organizations and creation of the SBN. City government has also leveraged Green Racine to obtain state grants for certain sustainable projects such as solar panels at city hall and improvements to the Root River watershed. Green Racine may have helped the city become more engaged in development of the STAR Community Index, an emerging set of standards for defining and certifying sustainable cities by ICLEI, an international organization of municipalities dedicated to sustainability.


Green Racine has become a model for launching collaborative community efforts. For example, the Metro-Milwaukee Green initiative, which was developed in 2008, launched on January 9, 2009 and is snow underway, has its roots in Racine’s efforts. Further, Green Racine is helping local shift the sustainability movement beyond environmentalists to include educators, business leaders, politicians and others.
Signers of the Green Racine Proclamation of Commitment


Proclamation of Commitment

People today are paying greater attention to the environment. We feel, however, to better understand the impact we’re making on the outdoors, we need to look indoors first. We pledge to do something about the impact of building here in the City and County of Racine. To focus on facilities, we’ve launched a county-wide pledge call “Green Racine.” We represent the major institutions and businesses that have joined the effort to green our facilities by starting with the simple action of changing to a green cleaning program. This is the first step in creating an ongoing, coordinated effort to improve our environmental sustainability and the health and safety of the people of our community. Having recognized management of our buildings can make a difference, we, who have signed below, pledge to work toward making our facilities more resource efficient with reduced impact on health and the environment, beginning this day, April 19th, 2007.


City of Racine


County of Racine


Gateway Technical College


Great Northern Corporation


Holy Communion Lutheran Church


Johnson Controls Inc.


Johnson Outdoors Inc.


Johnson Financial Group


JohnsonDiversey Inc.

Kranz Inc.


Lakeside Curative Services


Lincoln Lutheran of Racine


Modine Manufacturing Company


Olympia Brown Unitarian Universalist Church


Racine EnAct


Racine Federated Inc.


Racine Journal Times


Racine Unified School District


Ruud Lighting


SC Johnson and Son Inc.


St Andrew Lutheran Church


St Catherine’s High School


The Prairie School


Twin Disc Inc


University of Wisconsin-Parkside


Wheaton Franciscans Healthcare-All Saints



Participating organizations represent more than 13,000 employees in the Racine area. The above group represents the original signers. Attendees to the April 19th event included 70 participants to the workshop, 30-plus participants in the signing event, 12 exhibiting nonprofit organizations.

Green Racine Actions Proposed by RCEDC


RCEDC staff reviewed the Summary of Group Input that was the result of the July 24, 2008 workshop hosted at Wingspread. Six goals and five parameters were revised to include the following:


Goal 1: A Green Racine Community: To assist citizens, local governments and businesses to adopt a green lifestyle.

Goal 2: Green Racine Image Campaign: To develop a Green Racine brand platform and to use it to conduct internal and external marketing and public relations activities that will result in the retention and attraction of residents and business.

Goal 3: Green Labor Force: To develop and make available workforce training and education that will enable the local labor force to take advantage of green career opportunities.

Goal 4: Green Entrepreneurs: To assist entrepreneurs in taking advantage of market opportunities by starting new green businesses through available technology, as well as intellectual property owned or licensed by CATI Inc.

Goal 5: Existing Green Business Expansion: To provide business development assistance to Racine County companies that hope to take advantage of market opportunities in the green economy.

Goal 6: Green Business Attraction: To develop a Racine County business attraction initiative that targets green and sustainable businesses that would create jobs and tax base in Racine County.


Parameter 1: Is Racine County Going to be for Real?  Program needs to be credible, substantive and sustainable.

Parameter 2: Will Green be Affected by the Recession? Green movement may be adversely affected by the international recession.

Parameter 3: Need for a Partnership Model. Diversified goals of Green Racine (community, workforce and business) require each be led by a Lead Partner working with Support Partners and Advisory Group as developed in Racine County over last decade.

Parameter 4: Regional Approach and Outside Technical Assistance. Green Racine will require necessary financial resources to be successfully implemented. County may lack the density to properly fund the program (estimated at $180,000 annually for 3 years). Hence, the green initiative should become regional to SE WI engaging a respected regional group and managing partner.

Parameter 5: Marketing Green Racine. May be expensive and unsuccessful as with previous branding efforts. Other marketing and PR activities are underway, and duplication should be avoided: 1) RCEDC: I-94 Corridor; 2) Racine County Workforce Development Center: Image and Worker Attraction; and 3) The Racine County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau: rebranding the agency.


The Green Racine Work Plan Task Team should discuss and prioritize these goals and parameters.

Toward a Vision for Green Racine


The strength of Green Racine is its focus on business, which includes any major enterprise – for-profit, nonprofit, government or institution – with assets, employees, risks, products/services, customers and a reputation to manage. Green Racine begins with greening building assets, recognizing they have a great impact on sustainability and its triple bottom line of people, planet and profit. Green Racine has moved on to additional concerns for greening enterprises, community and economy.


Sustainability in business must contribute very tangibly to the bottom-line. If companies and organizations are to adapt sustainability as a viable strategy it must be for compelling business reasons: reduced costs, better managed risks, attracting and retaining talent, increased worker productivity and skill levels, and innovation for growth and competitive advantage.


Thinking of sustainability as that “green thing” is wholly inadequate. Too often green is identified as a one-off action, such as offering a few environmentally friendly products but not considering the health, safety and environmental impact of all other products; offering a health event for employees without incentives or education for living a healthier lifestyle; or a making a one-time contribution to a nonprofit without engaging in the community more deeply and strategically. On the contrary, sustainability is comprehensive and holistic. The sustainable business has a purpose that is embedded with profitability. While milestones are achieved along the way, sustainability in business is never fully accomplished; it is always driving down the road of continuous and innovative improvement.


Needed is fresh, new thinking born of measurable results. Leaders must not merely make the business case for sustainability, but the sustainable case for business, especially in the face of the present economic downturn and global recession. Many area enterprises already have compelling sustainability stories to tell. They beg be told throughout the Racine community and beyond.


That “beyond” is crucially important for Green Racine going forward. It must become a regional effort drawing upon the strength of sustainable businesses and institutions in Southeastern Wisconsin. That will take time, however, because success depends upon creating strong relationships and building upon measurable achievements for sustainable business before moving on. Although many sustainable and socially responsible initiatives have recently come upon the scene, Green Racine (or a newly named entity) must provide regional coordination and communication.

Key Points from Interviews


Racine Area

  • Racine is a discrete, well-defined community of manageable size, which accounts for its relative regional independence. Several large international companies have their headquarters in the Racine area, which offers a global window on world markets to this mid-size hometown.
  • One key advantage is Lake Michigan. Clean up and renovation of the lakefront, downtown and North Beach as well as ongoing development of the lakefront are examples of the community taking advantage of this resource.
  • Unemployment in Racine is a complex issue. Once a person right out of high school could get a manufacturing job that would pay a family-raising wage. Those jobs are gone. Yet, Racine’s challenge has not been so much a lack of jobs but of people with the right skills, especially soft skills, willing to hold a job that pays $12 or $14 an hour.


Green Economy and Economic Development

  • Green economies develop out of the collective commitments of businesses to provide sustainable solutions in the marketplace and to practice sustainability within their own organization.
  • Emerging regional green industries include water/wastewater management (i.e. Badger Meter, JohnsonDiversey) and energy efficiency and alternative energy (i.e. Johnson Controls, Ruud Lighting)
  • While marketing has its place, green economic development must not be limited to an exercise in branding. It has to be about the substance of what Racine was, is and will be.
  • Green economic development must include strategies and funding for workforce development and training. It should include local purchase of goods / services. Government must take ownership as well as educational institutions and businesses.


Green Racine Initiative

  • While business leaders have an interest in the possibilities of Green Racine, the initiative has had little measurable results on a community-wide scale. Several key activities have stemmed from Green Racine, however: monthly meetings of the Sustainable Business Network, leadership sessions at Wingspread, adapting green cleaning, engaging Racine in development of the STAR Community Index, receiving state-funded grants for solar panels at city hall and improvements to the Root River watershed, and establishing a model for community collaborative initiatives.

Key Points from Interviews (continued)


Green Racine Initiative (Continued)

  • Green Racine must now be crafted out of a shared vision for a community of sustainable enterprises and a thriving local and regional economy. Nashville for example defines sustainability from the perspective of locally grown and purchased food. Green Racine became the template for Metro-Milwaukee Green.
  • RAMAC has done a good job of launching the Sustainable Business Network as a monthly forum for education about green issues and learning what other companies and organizations are doing. The business case for sustainability must increasingly be a part of the mission of this organization. This needs to provide communication, resources and assistance in strategies for adapting sustainability as a viable business strategy.
  • Green Racine has been an endeavor with many players but no one coach. Different people have taken leadership for various parts but if the effort is to continue it must have a more formal infrastructure and leadership so as to better coordinate and communicate actions.


Some Suggested Actions Moving Forward

  • Establish a vision and direction for Green Racine. Collaborate with local leaders and collaborate regionally with select organizations, especially Waukesha, which is developing an initiative for helping companies become sustainable (now called Partnerships in Sustainability).
  • The Green Racine template needs to be taken to Kenosha and Waukesha as well. Get these communities working together and then take the template to Milwaukee and other counties of the Milwaukee 7 (Walworth, Ozaukee and Washington).
  • Increase visibility on a state and federal level. Speak with our politicians when ready. Engage media throughout the process as appropriate.
  • The Johnson Foundation is poised to play a central role in acting as convener of a region-wide answer to Green Racine. This should engage successful business-based sustainability efforts such as CORE Colorado and other mayors such as Davy Crockett of Chattanooga, Tenn.

Agenda and Discussion Questions for Team Planning Meeting


March 11, 2009 – The Johnson Foundation at Wingspread





10:30 a.m.






11:00 a.m.





11:30 a.m.


11:45 a.m.






12:25 p.m.


12:30 p.m.


Vision for Green Racine

Discussion Questions:

What are the key elements for the mission of Green Racine?

What descriptors best illustrate the future of Green Racine?



Goals for Green Racine

Discussion Questions:

What does Green Racine need to accomplish for Racine and the region?

What are 3 goals we can agree upon?


Working lunch is served


Strategies for Green Racine

Discussion Questions:

Of all the ways to get there, what key actions need to be taken to make Green Racine a regional effort with realistic expectations?

What is the structure that should house Green Racine?


Next Steps – Detailed by Greg




Words and Phrases Describing Green Racine


During the Team Planning Meeting at Wingspread on March 11, the group identified several key descriptors of Green Racine. They include:


  • Business-led (focused on businesses/organizations with real assets and risks to manage driven by key businesses in the community)
  • Community-wide (not one owner but supported by business, government and nonprofit enterprises)
  • Incremental (implemented by not trying to solve every problem at once)
  • Doable (easy to put into practice with first steps in green cleaning and building efficiency)
  • Learning-focus (anecdotes of what businesses are doing to become more sustainable moving toward measurable outcomes)
  • Early in the game (Racine first to launch community-wide initiative but others are rapidly catching up)
  • Facilities-focused (include both environmental and health impacts of buildings)
  • Sustainable business-driven (creating more efficient operations while developing business opportunities for growth and competitive advantage)
  • Labor force development (providing training, definition and opportunities for green collar or blue-green collar jobs in the region)
  • Pathway out of poverty (can become a real and tangible means for economic development for all by creating jobs that career-tracking, earn a living wage and are not easily off-shored)
  • Visible (efforts have been and will continue to be promoted and communicated)
  • Improved building efficiency (upgrading building stock of the community with the aim of reducing environmental footprint)
  • Inter-related (potential for reaching all aspects of overall health and well-being of the area and region)
  • Urban (centered on city of Racine and other local municipalities)
  • Organic (growing, evolving, sputtering)


What follows is a Work Plan flowing from the Team Planning Meeting. Attendees included: Jeff Neubauer, Kranz Inc; Gordy Kacala and Jenny Trick, Racine County Economic Development Corporation; Debbi Embry and Mayor Tom Friedel, City of Racine; Roger Dower, Lynn Broaddus, Carole Johnson and Sarah Wright of The Johnson Foundation. Greg Bell, management consultant, facilitated the planning meeting and drafted the plan.

Creating a Coalition for Sustainable Enterprises and Communities in Wisconsin


“Business is the only mechanism on the planet today powerful enough to produce the changes necessary to reverse global environmental and social degradation.”

Paul Hawken



Sustainable businesses and organizations, which include for-profits, not-for-profits governments and other institutions, are the building blocks of sustainable communities. These enterprises have the common need to better manage assets, employees, risks, products/services, customer relationships and reputations.


Leaders in Racine, Milwaukee and Waukesha have recognized that business-led and business-driven initiatives help to create more sustainable communities and drive economic development. Creating a coalition of sustainable communities in Wisconsin would be a business-led, business-driven, statewide initiative. Helping these enterprises become healthy, efficient and viable enhance the wellbeing of communities and accelerate economic and workforce development.


Mission of the Initiative


Provide the processes, tools, and educational and communication resources enterprises require to integrate sustainable business strategies for increasing profitable growth, operational efficiency, competitive advantage, and environmental and social responsibility.



Creating a Coalition for Sustainable Enterprises and Communities in Wisconsin


The Need


  • National, regional and local educational opportunities abound to learn about sustainability. A statewide coordinated approach and clearinghouse of events and activities is becoming essential.


  • There is a great need for incremental, actionable processes and solutions that help companies and organizations adopt sustainable best practices for increased operational efficiency and business development opportunities.


  • There is greater strength and the enhanced probability of success when leaders of a community challenge each other to become more sustainable than in trying to go it alone.



Goals for 2009 and Beyond


GOAL ONE: Help local enterprises adopt sustainable best practices in three key functions: 1) more efficient operations; 2) better management of risks; and 3) increased business development opportunities by providing resources, tools and processes. Encourage reporting measurable impact.


GOAL TWO: Promote and help coordinate community-wide and regional sustainability initiatives modeled on efforts such as Green Racine and Metro-Milwaukee Green.


GOAL THREE: Facilitate the connection between an emerging trained and educated green workforce with so called green collar or blue-green collar jobs as well as emerging sustainable management positions.


GOAL FOUR: Collaborate and coordinate with existing and emerging sustainability initiatives and programs in the state to better coordinate, communicate and promote participation and adoption.


Creating a Coalition for Sustainable Enterprises and Communities in Wisconsin


Service Offerings of the New Organization


  • Manage an Online Clearing House for regional and statewide sustainability activities, resources, links and current writing and thinking on sustainable enterprises and communities.


  • Conduct Educational Seminars and Workshops on sustainable business strategies (create new and support existing).


  • Develop and oversee a Corporate Mentorship Program that recruits mentor companies/organizations and participating mentees.


  • Coordinate local Sustainable Business Networks and Conversation Circles in SE Wisconsin.


  • Advance Sustainable Business Practices by providing processes, products, tools, resources and experts for enterprises to achieve increased operational efficiencies, better managed risks and enhanced business development strategies.


  • Create, promote and implement Local Sustainable Community Initiatives such as Green Racine and Metro-Milwaukee Green, which are then integrated into the regional coalition.


  • Create and coordinate an annual Statewide Sustainability Leadership Summit to bring together all sustainability stakeholders in Wisconsin, modeled on CORE Colorado.



Creating a Coalition for Sustainable Enterprises and Communities in Wisconsin


Specific Actions


  1. Develop a board of directors to provide long-term direction in May 2009.


  1. Hire a management team and appropriate staff starting in May 2009.


  1. Acquire necessary grants and funding to support staff and programs in beginning in April 2009.


  1. Identify and recruit key business partners during May 2009 to drive toward a coordinated, statewide, sustainable business-development initiative beginning with Southeastern and South-central Wisconsin.


  1. Develop a survey and assessment tool and process that simply and cost-effectively helps businesses and organizations adopt sustainable business practices in May and June 2009.


  1. Adopt a comprehensive mentoring program geared to help enterprises of all sizes incorporate sustainable business practices. Pilot three or four companies during the Summer 2009.


  1. Host a regional sustainability conference in September 2009 showcasing the mentoring program, and tools and processes.


  1. Continue conducting or introduce regularly scheduled meetings of local Sustainable Business Networks in Racine, Milwaukee, Waukesha and two other areas in SE and SC Wisconsin through 2009 and 2010.


  1. Help UW-Parkside and UW-Extension launch the Sustainable Management Degree Program this fall and develop an advisory board. Explore assisting sustainable programs at other area colleges and universities.


  1. Participate in emerging statewide efforts such as the Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council developed out of the UW School of Business in Madison, and the Great Lakes WATER Initiatives of the Milwaukee 7 and UW-Milwaukee.