This past week I had the chance to visit two businesses in the 41st District that are on the cutting edge, using renewable resources as a means to do business smartly and sustainably. Both businesses – SunDog Solar and Local Ocean – are prime examples of the types of businesses we need to support and promote. They are key to our district’s economic future.

SunDog Solar in Chatham received a $49,841 grant from the USDA that will help owner Jody Rael complete a solar panel project. It is one of several grants Rael has received over the years to assist his solar business.

As U.S. Congressman Scott Murphy, who helped secure the grant, noted in his remarks, Rael is a “visionary.” More than a decade ago he purchased a former mill/boxboard factory that hadn’t been used for years. Slowly but surely he has been realizing his vision of reusing those buildings and tying them in with the local art community, while at the same time building a viable business that can create jobs and help preserve our resources.

Local Ocean, in Greenport, is another viable business utilizing the concepts of renewable energy and adaptive reuse of existing buildings. They moved into an old Kaz warehouse and with technology patented in Israel 15 years ago, built a “living machine” to grow fresh fish. The self-sustaining system reuses the same water by filtering it, and their product can be grown and sold year-round to restaurants and markets within a 500-mile radius.

Local Ocean employs 40 and is already expanding; construction at the site helps employ another 65 people. The company could have located almost anywhere, but was lured to Columbia County by a package of tax incentives and job creation grants.

Throughout this campaign I have been talking about businesses like SunDog Solar and Local Ocean – businesses that take advantage of the best of our region, are good for our economy and our environment, and promote “adaptive reuse” of our buildings. The 41st District needs a representative who will take the lead when it comes to encouraging these types of businesses to set up shop here. These businesses are our future, and I am poised to lead us into the future.