We caught up with this year’s ImpactPHL Award winner to see how the Philadelphia business community has contributed to their success.  Check out what Micah Gold-Markel, Founder of Solar States has to say as we highlight one of the excellent small businesses that drives the Greater Philadelphia region. Join us to celebrate the 35th Annual Excellence Award winners on Thursday, November 9.

Solar States is a Philadelphia-based solar installation and education firm investing in positive environmental and economic change since 2008. As a certified B Corporation, the company is committed to focusing equally on profit, the health and wellbeing of its employees, and the environment.

After running a successful software business for 13 years, Micah Gold-Markel attended a speech by Green for All Advocate Van Jones, which inspired him to start Solar States with the goal was to connect sustainable energy, education, and economic development using solar energy as the basis to tie all the topics together.

“The company is taking the opportunity to affect positive environmental and economic change by making a commitment to solar energy project implementation and education,” Gold-Markel says. “In addition to installing solar arrays on schools, homes, and commercial building, Solar States works to connect Philadelphia students with the green-collar economy through training and jobs, investing in the region’s future and local economy.”

Gold-Markel always knew that he wanted to start a business. Initially, he began a business by promoting hip-hop shows and working as an artist manager before shifting careers into the software industry. He did not feel fulfilled, however, due to the fact that people who he grew up with were struggling to find work. For Gold-Markel, he wanted to help people instead of just making money. Van Jones’ speech was the final inspiration that he needed to jumpstart his business.

“Our vision is to use solar as a force for social change,” Gold-Markel says. “We want to educate more students in the states we work out of by establishing solar classes in the surrounding schools.  By getting more people to go solar, we see this energy source as a way to revitalize the planet and reduce our carbon footprint. We have doubled in size since 2014, and project that to happen again in the next couple of years as our mission unfolds.”

Jones explains that the company takes pride in providing employees with a living wage and retaining decent, hardworking people who they train and trust. Solar States and Gold-Merkel founded the Philadelphia Solar Schools Initiative, which creates educational and workfor