Incubating corporate innovation in 2022 and beyond

A group of seven Sustainable Growth Coalition members.

The business world has a unique superpower: imagining new systems and creating technological advancements. Inside the Sustainable Growth Coalition, members are doing just that: discussing innovative, creative ways to advance circularity, environmental justice, and thriving, wasteless communities. As we look back on all the knowledge we built and solutions shared in 2022, we’re energized by our progress and for our future.

The Sustainable Growth Coalition’s main focuses in 2022 were connection, professional development, and providing a container for inspiration and creativity. Last year’s highlights were many, but we are focusing on three – education, connection, and incubating innovation.


In 2022, Environmental Initiative convened a set of learning labs and other professional development opportunities where members gained valuable insight into circularity and equitable sustainability concepts. Through that work, we created a foundation of information for members on the basics of circularity, waste streams, and best practices. Members used a common language to develop resources like the Carbon Credits Guide which seeks to accelerate regional carbon offsets and support local economies.

“Every company and practitioner is on their own environmental justice and circularity journey. Sustainable Growth Coalition meetings and events are places to share resources, grow capacity, and learn so we can keep pushing the envelope of what’s possible.”—Emily Haley, Communications Director


As one of Environmental Initiative’s flagship partnerships, the Sustainable Growth Coalition will always be focused on making connections, sharing information, and keeping up to date on trends. With our added staff capacity—Britta Dornfeld, Tonya Draughn, and Jaycie Thomsen—we’ve been able to launch monthly industry newsletters highlighting member successes and innovations in sustainability. Last year, the Coalition increased its impact potential by adding two new partner organizations, Granite Partners and Merjent. Finally, the steering committee welcomed new leadership: Brittany Brama, C.H. Robinson, and Jeff Standish, University of Minnesota.

“Creating a pre-competition container for members to connect on issues and share solutions is an essential pillar of our work together. When we add more capacity and expertise to that container, we’re able to share insights more effectively with each other.” – Mike Harley, Executive Director

Incubating Innovation

The field of sustainability is evolving every day and so are members. Based on our current and growing understanding of circularity and justice, members continually reassessed and refreshed values and goals, exploring the return on investment of the Coalition with the UMN DesignU team, to further align our purpose to the kind of world we want to build. This crucial work allowed the Coalition to enhance its understanding of the impact of member activities, individually and collectively, and find linkages and circular solutions. Individually, members were also emboldened to discuss company-specific opportunities and problem-solve in one of our many virtual and in-person gatherings.

“The Coalition is working on something completely new, and we don’t expect circular solutions to fall out of thin air. We are out actively looking for them, and this year we partnered with the University of Minnesota to help us problem-solve our collective impacts and provide resources to the broader, regional business community.” – Britta Dornfeld, Partnership Manager

Looking ahead to 2023

As the convener and presenter of the Sustainable Growth Coalition, Environmental Initiative is committed to expanding on these goals for 2023 as well as deploying the expertise we’ve cultivated among members. We plan to focus member actions in one of three project areas and create even stronger ties between members on a local, regional, and global level. Additionally, we intend to deploy member expertise in all areas of Environmental Initiative’s work, from regenerative agriculture to cleaner air for all. With our growing voice for change, members will have the opportunity to influence state leadership through the Minnesota Climate Action Framework as well as with our ongoing partnership with CERES.

Interested in learning more?

Explore the Sustainable Growth Coalition’s webpage, Circularity Toolkit, and blogs. If you’d like to learn more about joining the Coalition, get in touch with us.