Willimantic, Conn. – On March 21 a panel of small sustainable business owners participated in a “Sustainable Business Panel,” at Eastern Connecticut State University. The panel was organized and led by Gabriela Wrobel, intern at Eastern’s Institute of Sustainable Energy. Wrobel invited panelists Heather Burns, Amy Kalafa, Lynn Stoddard and Andrew Gutt to speak to the Eastern community about the different aspects of starting a sustainable business.

The panelists stressed the value of looking at sustainability as a benefit rather than a hindrance. They discussed how they got started in their business, the benefits of starting a sustainable business and what challenges they faced, as well as offering advice for young entrepreneurs thinking about starting a sustainable business. “You have to focus on innovation and purpose,” said Heather Burns, president of the Connecticut Sustainable Business Council. “You need to develop and adapt to the evolving science.”

The panelists included Gutt, owner of Cafemantic, a local restaurant in Willimantic, CT; Kalafa, owner of Sustainable Business Consultants and A-Ray TV; Burns, president of the Connecticut Sustainable Business Council; and Stoddard, owner of Storrs Adventure Park, a local park for individuals of all ages.

“I decided to host this panel as part of my economic internship requirement,” said Wrobel. “There was a lot of behind the scenes work that had to get done. Luckily I had a lot of great connections which helped me to network with these panelists.” “I wanted students to begin thinking about sustainability as the future of business, both ethically and financially.”

The panel concluded with a question and answer session and the introduction of an essay competition held by the ISE. Admission was free; open to students, faculty/staff as well as the community. The event was a result of the Institute of Sustainable energy’s internship program.