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Slippery Rock University program helps businesses go green, make more green

| Saturday, Aug. 24, 2013, 9:09 p.m.
Jasmine Goldband | Tribune-Review
North County Brewing Company brewpub is on Main Street in Slippery Rock. The business works with Sustainable Enterprise Accelerator participants, a grant-funded organization from Slippery Rock University, helping to implement new initiatives using sustainable business practices.
Jasmine Goldband | Tribune-Review
North County Brewing Company owner Bob McCafferty collects blueberries from his blueberry bushes on his 64 acre farm in Worth Township, Mercer County. McCafferty uses the blueberries from his 280 blueberry bushes for the fruit style blueberry beer served at his Slippery Rock brewpub.
Jasmine Goldband | Tribune-Review
North County Brewing Company owner Bob McCafferty of Worth Township, Mercer County feeds his beef cattle spent grain that’s left after the beer is brewed at his beer pub in Slippery Rock Wednesday, August 21, 2013. The beef cattle are used to make burgers at his Slippery Rock brewpub.
Jasmine Goldband | Tribune-Review
North County Brewing Company head brewer Josh Gauger, 26 of Slippery Rock takes out the spent grain thatÕs left after the beer is brewed at the beer pub in Slippery Rock Wednesday, August 21, 2013. The spent grain is used to feed the beef cattle used to make burgers at the Slippery Rock brewpub.
Jasmine Goldband | Tribune-Review
North County Brewing Company owner Bob McCafferty of Worth Township, Mercer County loads his truck with the spent grain that’s left after the beer is brewed at his beer pub in Slippery Rock Wednesday, August 21, 2013. The spent grain is used to feed the beef cattle on his farm, then used to make burgers at the Slippery Rock brewpub.
JaJasmine Goldband | Tribune-Review
Sustainable Enterprise Accelerator summer interns from left, Patrick Coleman, 23 of Allison Park, Taylor Shenberger, 20 of York, Pa., Cory Forrest, 23 of Mars, Brett Schindler, 22 of Allison Park and Derek Carr, 24 of Titusville Crawford County are some of the participants in SEA, a grant-funded organization from Slippery Rock University, helping businesses with some new initiatives using sustainable business practices.
Jasmine Goldband | Tribune-Review
North County Brewing Company owner Bob McCafferty of Worth Township, Mercer County loads his tractor with the spent grain that’s left after the beer is brewed at his beer pub in Slippery Rock Wednesday, August 21, 2013. McCafferty uses the grain to feed his beef cattle that he uses to make burgers at his Slippery Rock brewpub.
Jasmine Goldband | Tribune-Review
North County Brewing Company production manager Jim Hicks of Hermitage, Mercer County master brewer Sean McIntyre of Slippery Rock, Butler County and owner Bob McCafferty of Worth Township, Mercer County at the Slippery Rock beer production facility Wednesday, August 21, 2013. Students working for Sustainable Enterprise Accelerator, a grant-funded organization from Slippery Rock University, helped the business with some new initiatives using sustainable business practices.

When owner Bob McCafferty wanted to utilize solar power at his North Country Brewing Co., he connected with Slippery Rock University's Sustainable Enterprise Accelerator to formulate a plan.

The Sustainable Enterprise Accelerator (SEA) is a long name for a program with a simple mission: help entrepreneurs start businesses and help established businesses grow.

“We try to show the wisdom in taking a more sustainable approach to business because we really think that's the future,” said John Golden, a professor of business at Slippery Rock and the accelerator's managing director.

Sustainable business practices focus on the three P's — “profit, planet and people” — meaning that they're good for the bottom line, good for the environment and good for customers and employees, he said.

“We recommend that business practices be good for the environment and social concerns of people. You can maximize your profits by doing it this way,” Golden said.

The business incubator is funded by state grants and is staffed by student interns who get college credit for helping clients to make business plans, he said.

Interns worked with McCafferty at North Country Brewing Co. throughout the summer, performing energy audits, developing a plan for installation of solar panels and researching tax credits and grants for businesses using solar panels.

The students also worked with other regional businesses, such as Volant Mill Shops, Slippery Rock in Bloom and Slow Foods Slippery Rock Chapter.

A new batch of fall semester interns will continue these projects and begin new ones, Golden said.

Students involved in the program have backgrounds in business, communication, technology and science and work together in small, cross-disciplinary groups to help budding entrepreneurs or business owners.

Working across disciplines and pairing skills gives students a taste of the business world, Golden said.

“It was nice to get insight into what other people and majors are doing, rather than being around the same people all the time,” said Derek Carr, 24, of Titusville, an environmental studies major at Slippery Rock.

McCafferty said that since the start of his brewpub in 1998, he has tried to make what is typically a wasteful business into something sustainable.

Takeout containers are compostable, waste from the kitchen is fed to his pigs, grain leftover from brewing is fed to his cattle and used oil from fryers is converted into biodiesel fuel.

“The neat thing about SEA is they combine sustainablility and business,” McCafferty said.

“A lot of us want to be green, so we try to look at how we apply this in a commercial setting.”

McCafferty is putting the finishing touches on a production brewery that will enable him to can his beer.

To his reported delight, Slippery Rock students with an interest in video production have devised a plan to embed commercials right into the beer cans.

When customers scan the can's QR code with their smartphones, it will take them to a short, humorous video about the beer on YouTube, said student Cory Forrest, 23, of Mars, an emerging technologies major.

Students wrote, filmed and produced four commercials, he said.

The accelerator program's connection with North Country Brewing Co. grew so strong that McCafferty is offering five $1,000 fellowships to Slippery Rock students to fund projects that enhance or encourage sustainable entrepreneurship, to be awarded at the end of the fall semester.

“If you look at a sustainable business and look at the way it's set up, it's more efficient for everyone involved,” said Patrick Coleman, 23, a Slippery Rock environmental studies major from Allison Park.

“It's a way to lower cost that people don't realize,” added Taylor Schenberger, a 20-year-old accounting major from York.

For more information on the SEA, call 724-738-1606 or visit their website www.seasru.com.

Rachel Farkas is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-779-6902 or rfarkas@tribweb.com.

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