Innovation & Entrepreneurship

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Profile: Allison MacHaffie, Clark Student, '08
Grenergy Solar Store & EcoVision Consulting

AllisonMany people are jumping on the "green" bandwagon lately because they feel it's trendy and profitable. However, there are people like Allison MacHaffie, a Clark senior, who are working to establish businesses in the field because they have a true passion for energy conservation and the environment. Allison is in the final planning stages before she opens up a branch of the USA Solar Store in her hometown of Sheffield, MA this winter. She will be partnering with two other co-owners, and plans on running this business as her full time job when she graduates in May with her Management degree, with the track in Innovation & Entrepreneurship.

Allison first heard about the USA Solar Store, based in Cavendish, Vermont, last year when she happened to drive by one of its branches, the CNE Solar Store in Auburn, MA, and decided to stop in. She signed up for a workshop they were holding, and after attending decided that she wanted to do more to bring solar energy to the Berkshires, where she feels there will be a strong market for it. The bread and butter of her store will be the selling and installation of solar panels (installation will be done by one of her partners, a trained electrician). In addition, her store will sell cutting-edge energy saving appliances designed to work with solar power and other green living products, such as literature, solar powered toys and home circulation fans. As part of the company's mission, which Allison says is "also about education and promoting green living in general", her store will offer workshops and classes on solar energy and how to live more eco-consciously.

The solar store itself is not Allison's I&E capstone project; it is almost ready to open. She wants to develop a green consulting business to be a companion to her store, and it is for this additional business that she is using the I&E program and capstone course. Along with classmate Shaina Mackie, Allison will begin doing research and development on her consulting business this fall. The first three areas she's focusing her research in are green laws and tax write offs, financial information (determining when the cost of making your home eco-friendly balances out with energy savings) and also market research on similar companies. She plans on launching the consulting business this summer as part of the services her solar store will offer, further lending to the mission and value of her business: that changing the way people live is really the ultimate goal.

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