Global Shapers Norfolk inspires millennials to create new jobs in sustainability

Global Shapers Norfolk is hosting an event to inspire millennials to create jobs in Virginia’s growing sustainability industry.

“Green with a Purpose” will feature local millennials who have already launched innovative sustainable companies, along with experts in sustainability. Global Shapers Norfolk is proud to host the event this Thursday January 26 at 7 p.m. at the new ODU Innovation Center in downtown Norfolk.

“With Norfolk ranking second only to New Orleans for the threat of sea level rise, we see an opportunity for innovation. The mission of Global Shapers Norfolk is to activate millennials in the 757 to drive creative change. We believe investing in sustainability can help keep millennials in Hampton Roads, as studies show nearly 75 percent of millennials value working for businesses that have a positive impact on society, according to the Deloitte Millennial Survey 2016,” Shaper Nisha Witt said.

Witt, a veteran and millennial, took the lead to organize “Green With a Purpose.” She has been recognized nationally for creating Aesop Technologies, which develops renewable methods to recharge cell phones. After winning $50,000 in business competitions to launch her company in Norfolk, the city has ordered Aesop’s newest product: benches outfitted with solar panels that can charge your cell phone.

Local millennial and ODU graduate Hamilton Perkins is also a featured speaker at Thursday’s “Green with a Purpose” event. Perkins will share his story about creating a company that turns trash into fashion. After learning that billions of plastic bottles are thrown away each year and it takes up to 1,000 years for plastic to degrade, Perkins wanted to make a difference. His Norfolk-based company recycles plastic bottles to make affordable, designer bags that look good, perform well, and reduce pollution.

In addition to Witt and Perkins, Jeff Staples of the Sierra Club Chesapeake Bay Group will speak about Virginia’s vast resources of clean, renewable energy and opportunities to expand solar and wind use.

“Green with a Purpose” is a free event that is open to the public. Global Shapers Norfolk chose to host the forum at the Old Dominion University Innovation Center to showcase the newest hotspot to launch and incubate startups in downtown Norfolk.

“We are impressed by the partnership between ODU and the City of Norfolk to promote innovation and diversify our economy by investing in start-ups of all shapes and sizes. ODU provides excellent resources to help individuals in our community launch startups - just like us,” Global Shapers Norfolk Curator Claire Wulf Winiarek said.

As a social start-up itself, Global Shapers Norfolk recently received a grant to help grow its hub from ODU’s Center for Enterprise Innovation (CEI). “We want to ensure that local millennials are aware of these sorts of opportunities to create new ventures. The challenge our region faces with sea-level rise is an opportunity for community engagement and entrepreneurial innovation, and we believe millennials can help lead the way,” Winiarek stressed.

Global Shapers Norfolk is a hub of the World Economic Forum's Global Shapers Community developed and led by distinguished, diverse young men and women under 30, driven by a shared responsibility to make a difference in their community. We are apolitical, not-for-profit, and committed to creating a better world by activating millennials in Hampton Roads.

The Hub will be organizing its 2017 community impact projects to align with the four primary themes that emerged from the 2016 #WeAre757Millennials report: sustainability, regionalism, economic development and growth, and arts and culture.