Sustainable Manufacturing and E3 Join Forces for the 10th SMART

January 4, 2011
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Bill McElnea is an International Trade Specialist with the International Trade Administration. He leads the Sustainable Manufacturing Initiative.  

Early December marked the tenth Sustainable Manufacturing American Regional Tour, or SMART and this one took place in Detroit, MI. Sixty representatives from Detroit’s manufacturing sector, state government, nonprofit sector, academia and federal government gathered to discuss, learn, teach and embody the lessons learned from companies who have applied the concepts of sustainable manufacturing. The event was free to participants and the objective was to connect Detroit manufacturers to the federal government’s E3 (Economy, Energy, Environment) Initiative, a multi-agency effort aimed at helping U.S. manufacturers and utilities become more energy-efficient, sustainable and competitive and showcase Detroit-area industrial energy efficiency and sustainability successes through company presentations and manufacturing facility tours. This was the second time the Sustainable Manufacturing Initiative or SMI has formally partnered with E3 (Economy, Energy, Environment). As the largest exporting metro region in the U.S., Detroit area businesses benefit from E3 initiatives, which present an array of opportunities for Detroit businesses looking to cut costs, identify new markets and create jobs.

Mary Saunders, deputy assistant secretary for manufacturing and services, tours Goodwill's GreenWorks facility in Detroit, MI

Mary Saunders, deputy assistant secretary for manufacturing and services, tours Goodwill’s GreenWorks facility in Detroit, MI

DTE Energy, Detroit’s largest utility, hosted the day’s morning session that featured opening remarks by President and COO Steve Kurmas and Commerce Deputy Assistant Secretary for Manufacturing and Services Mary Saunders. Saunders highlighted the range of tools and resources available to Detroit-area manufacturers, provided by the U.S. Commerce Department through the SMI, CommerceConnect and local Export Assistance Centers. Other federal government resources, such as the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center, the local Manufacturing Extension Partnership affiliate, and Small Business Administration district office were also highlighted.

The day’s events included a discussion about the successes and challenges in industrial energy efficiency and sustainability. The panel included Gerald Polk of DTE, who discussed their energy optimization programs for manufacturers, a program for which DTE has allocated more than $10 million. The program also provides grant incentives to manufacturers that plan to implement energy efficiency enhancements in their facilities. Over 1,100 businesses are currently participating in this program.

A highlight of the day included a tour of Goodwill’s Green Works facility where participants had the opportunity to hear personal success stories from employees and observe Green Works’ asset recovery operations. Participants toured the facility’s sorting and processing operations which use state of the art machinery donated by DTE Energy.

All in all, the day was a great success, with substantive discussion throughout on ways the federal and state governments, private sector, academia and nonprofit sector can work together to advance the green economy in Detroit. The E3 program will provide substantial follow-up to this event, recruiting a steady stream of Detroit-area manufacturers interested in implementing energy efficiency and sustainability improvements in their own operations to enhance competitiveness and environmental stewardship. Presentations, photos, and a full resource guide from the event are available on the SMI website.


  1. Wow…. 10Million just for this? Really low price no?

  2. Events such as this could help improved businesses, manufacturers to be exact to be more energy-efficient, sustainable and competitive. We need more events like this especially with the recession we are facing right now.

  3. It’s great to see sevral industries working together in detroit to not only get green but to create jobs. I have a friend in the movie business and he’s thinking of going to detroit for the tax breaks for film makers

  4. do you know anything about these tax breaks?

  5. manufacturers to be exact to be more energy-efficient, sustainable and competitive.

  6. It is great to see industry getting behind the sustainable, energy-efficient movement. more should be done in regards to the challenges in industrial energy efficiency and sustainability!

  7. Being from Detroit and a user of DTE services, I’m glad to see them participating in this. The energy companies definitely need a massive overhaul. It will also be interesting to see how they work to create jobs.

  8. It is heart-warming seeing so many people getting behind this project. Sustainable, energy-efficient methods are the only way to keep the businesses flourished and job opportunities being created.

  9. I am so glad to see how many people are helping an getting behind this. Sustainable business is the only way to go in this day and age. Great article.

  10. It’s nice to hear of a initiative like this that is working, helping people be more successful in the current climate. God know we need it. Sustainability is the way forward. All that needs to be done now is convince more governments.

  11. Being from the manufacturing sector, that is some good news that they are working to help the industry. Would be more beneficial if you invite alot more of the companies because just 60 reps seem like a small number. Better if it becomes nationwide too, that will make lots of new ideas for all.

  12. I wish every city and nation was focused on sustainability, including materials used, to reduce what ends up in land fills!

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