EDA Newsletter

Volume 2; Issue 3


In this Issue:

Federal Funding Opportunity Now Available for EDA's American Recovery Program

EDA is pleased to announce the solicitation of applications under its $150 million American Recovery Act Program. EDA is soliciting applications from eligible applicants in all U.S. States to fund projects that will advance economic growth in communities and regions experiencing chronic high unemployment and low per capita income.

EDA's goal is to create an environment that fosters innovation, promotes entrepreneurship and attracts increased private capital investment. The deadline for receipt of applications under the Recovery Act Program is June 30, 2010. All other information and requirements for the EDA American Recovery Act Program may be found in the March 10, 2009, Federal Register notice (74 FR 10232) and the companion federal funding opportunity announcement on EDA's Website.

Where are the Green Jobs?

Aside from the clear benefits that alternative and renewable energy sources hold for the environment, they also hold great promise for the American economy through the creation of higher-skill, higher-wage "green jobs."

What is a "real" green economy and where are the opportunities for green jobs?

There is general consensus that a few areas appear to be particularly promising in terms of high potential for "green job" growth. Leading researchers, both in and out of government consider the following industries and occupations "best bets" for green employment opportunities:

Manufacturing: Green products and technologies will affect many manufacturing-related sectors, but a recent Duke University study found that some of the biggest growth areas will be related to LED lighting, high performance windows and idling systems for trucks.

Green Construction: Residential construction and building retrofitting opportunities are expected to be a large job-growth area. Studies suggest that 10 on-site jobs will be created per $1 million invested in a typical retrofitting project. These estimates do not include additional jobs created from indirect economic activity such as producing building materials, like ductwork and insulation; energy efficient appliances, like refrigerators and lighting; or environmental controls, like meters and thermostats.

Wind Energy: The Midwest and the Plains are utilizing abundant wind resources in this growing field. Experts predict major job growth among wind energy technicians, mechanics and windsmiths.

Mass Transit/Freight Rail: As more funds are invested in mass transit, new job opportunities will also emerge. Engineers and conductors will be in demand, as will construction workers and other technical support personnel.

Agriculture-Related Sectors: Biofuels, especially ethanol, are already a big part of the sustainable business landscape. However, many other opportunities are also in place. Super Soil systems — a new method for dealing with animal wastes---are one promising technology area. Super Soil systems are not yet commercially available, but the underlying technology has proved to be successful in addressing a major problem in communities with large livestock industries and attendant problems of treating and disposing of animal waste. Hundreds of hog and chicken farms across the U.S. represent a ready market for this new technology.

What do these diverse sectors and occupations have in common?
Beyond the fact that they are all "green," most of them are higher-wage jobs and relate to existing technologies and existing markets. Visionary companies are already succeeding in these sectors, and the challenge ahead is not necessarily about inventing new technologies, but about scaling up the marketplace. In that sense, all of these sectors represent "real" opportunities that won't depend on a major shift in how we live or how businesses operate. Much of our economy's future success will depend on new innovations in green technology, but many higher-wage green jobs already exist today.

Helpful Resources

  • Gary Gereffi, Kristen Dubay, and Marcy Lowe, Manufacturing Climate Solutions, Report from Duke University Center on Globalization, Governance and Competitiveness, November 2008.(PDF)
  • Sarah White and Jason Walsh, Greener Pathways. Report prepared for the Center for Wisconsin Strategy, the Workforce Alliance and the Apollo Alliance, 2008. (PDF)
  • Vice President of the United States, Middle Class Task Force Staff Report, Green Jobs: A Pathway to a Strong Middle Class, February 2009.(PDF)

Growing a Green Workforce: Michigan is leading the way with educational and training programs!

Businesses of all sizes and in all sectors contend that access to a skilled and talented workforce is the most important ingredient to business success. As green industries and occupations begin to emerge, the demand for a skilled "green collar" workforce will also begin to materialize. A fundamental component to our nation's success will be the ability to prepare, train and re-train workers to meet this diverse and rapidly changing sector.

Currently, the green job market includes a wide-variety of skills and occupations. Renewable energy production, green building, agriculture and transportation are just a few of the industries generating higher-skill, higher-wage jobs. This diversity is one essential reason that many communities, educational institutions and workforce development centers are looking at green jobs to enhance their community's economic position.

Many green jobs provide a dual benefit. Jobs like green building construction or the installation of solar panels help support sustainability goals such as reduced fossil fuel use or increased use of recycled materials. At the same time, many of these positions are higher-wage, which boosts the economy. Many of the positions fall in the category of higher-skill jobs, career paths that require some level of technical education beyond a high school diploma. Many labor market experts expect that demand for higher-skill jobs will rapidly increase in coming years.

Michigan has been an "early adopter" of these concepts. Faced with significant declines in traditional manufacturing sectors, the state's leaders have sought to promote alternative career paths for the Michigan workforce. Green jobs offer one means to capitalize on the state's traditional manufacturing strength, while also generating other environmental benefits for the state. Michigan's education and workforce development institutions have pioneered education programs in alternative energy, sustainability and other green areas. In fact, all 15 of the state's public universities are offering courses devoted to alternative energy, and the state has also identified 88 universities, colleges and educational centers for a worker retraining program with a focus on green jobs.

The demand for Michigan's academic programs in alternative energy and related fields has grown so strong that waiting-lists are the norm. For example, the University of Michigan's Advanced Energy Systems course boosted its registration from 41 to 60 within a three-year timeframe. An analysis conducted by the Phoenix Energy Institute concluded that at least 60 course offerings at the University of Michigan fall under the alternative energy umbrella.

Lansing Community College (LCC) is also actively engaged through its Alternative Energy Initiative and its Associate's Degree in Alternative Energy Technology. Working in collaboration with the National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium (NAFTC), LCC instructors were tapped to create alternative energy curriculum for colleges and universities across the country. LCC's automotive technology students work on hybrid vehicles and have built an internal combustion engine powered by a fuel cell. LCC's Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC), Electrical and Building Construction students learn energy management and alternative methods for heating and cooling buildings and residences. Alternative energy students also study wind, solar, geothermal and bio-mass/gas energy production systems to develop an understanding of the challenges and opportunities in developing a renewable energy economy.

Beyond the education offerings sampled above, there are several state-endorsed initiatives to aid in the development of new industries and rigorous retraining and reemployment efforts that involve both education and private investment.

One such program is Governor Jennifer Granholm's No Worker Left Behind (NWLB) program, which in August 2008, expanded its offerings to include a $6 million investment in green jobs training. NWLB is one of the more aggressive workforce development efforts ever attempted in Michigan. Within two years, NWLB seeks to double the number of trained workers, by providing up to two years of free tuition. Last month, Governor Granholm further raised the bar with her proposal for a Michigan Energy Corps, designed to train and deploy unemployed workers in the weatherization of homes and public buildings.

No Worker Left Behind pays up to $5,000 a year in tuition for up to two years at community colleges, universities and private-sector training schools. Its goal is to retrain 100,000 workers by 2010. As of February 2009, more than 51,000 Michigan residents have already used the program.

Another program, which emphasizes the need for industry involvement is the Michigan Centers of Energy Excellence (COEE). The COEE program brings companies, academic institutions and the state together to support cutting-edge research and development and pioneer new alternative-energy technologies. The program will match the base companies with universities, national labs and training centers to accelerate next-generation research, workforce development and commercialization.
The focus and efforts of Michigan education entities, the state and workforce development leaders couldn't come at a better time. Michigan is looking toward a more diverse economy with more industry and less dependence on manufacturing and other prominent sectors. Yet, it is its long history with these industries that make alternative energy such a natural fit for Michigan's workers.

Economic development practitioners across the country are facing similar challenges. Here's what they can learn from Michigan:

  • Building strong links between the private sector and workforce training providers is especially important in emerging sectors where both the needs of businesses and the needs of workers are less established. Green, sustainable, and renewable industries all fit this bill.
  • Where possible, training programs should build a bridge between current markets and emerging market needs. For example, LCC's training programs provide a base of training that allows workers for careers in both traditional fields — HVAC Installation and Repair — as well as emerging sectors such as alternative heating/cooling systems.
  • Top-level leadership is required. Because green industries are a relatively new phenomenon, workers are often uncertain about potential career opportunities. Large-scale programs like NWLB and the Energy Corps send an important message that green jobs will be a profitable and sustainable career path. These statewide initiatives provide needed funding, but also provide inspiration to move in new directions.

For more information on the programs listed above, visit the following links:

Building Green, Building Futures: Austin-based nonprofit provides a pathway out of poverty for local youth

In 1993, the city of Austin, Texas approached American YouthWorks, an Austin-based nonprofit that offers education and job training to at-risk youth, to build the city's first ever green house. Fifteen years and 105 houses later, the program has served hundreds of youths through its Casa Verde YouthBuild program.

Students build 5-star energy efficient, 1100 square foot, two-bedroom homes that sell for about $140,000.

The program helps youth and young adults (ages 17-24) learn construction skills by building environmentally friendly houses in Austin. In addition to earning industry certificates in construction, students earn college scholarship money. Casa Verde uses 60 percent recyclable material as well as solar screens and other technologies to make homes more energy-efficient.

Richard Halpin, founder and CEO of American YouthWorks calls the program life changing. "Many of these young adults — currently about 90 percent — have been in the criminal justice system. Just about all of them are drop-outs and come from low-income homes. Through this program, students learn and earn their pathway out of poverty."

Currently, the Casa Verde YouthBuild program serves 22 students, however enrollment ranges from 22–35 students at any given time. At least 30 percent of graduates have gone into the skilled trades industry. In fact, Halpin mentions that five recent graduates are currently in a stone cutting artisan apprentice program in the Austin area.

"Our program is so unique that we have business leaders coming to us looking to hire our students and graduates. The push for green is obvious in recent years and businesses turn to us for that experience."

The Casa Verde program is partially funded through the Department of Labor's (DOL) YouthBuild program and has received other investments from industry, foundations and other state, local and Federal entities.

Although the Casa Verde YouthBuild was YouthWorks entry into the green arena, it doesn't stop there. In September 2008, the U.S. Economic Development Administration issued a grant to redevelop one of American YouthWorks high school campuses into a Green Jobs Training Center (EDA also issued a grant in 1999 to YouthWorks to build the first green-built school and commercial building in Austin). The training center, set to break ground this month, will serve as an energy magnet high school.

"We have a great opportunity here to take the applied learning method that works so well in the Casa Verde YouthBuild program and transform the way our students learn math, science and other subjects. We will use industry-based certificate programs and ensure that the education reflects the current and future needs of the market," said Halpin.

And that market demand is more prominent than ever. Texas is already the leader in wind power generation in the country and has recently discovered a rich marketplace for solar. As such, American YouthWorks is focused on training for a variety of occupations in solar and wind power, building energy management, water harvesting, healthy food and commercial kitchens, to name just a few.

Halpin is also quick to point out the economic benefits as well, "The Green Jobs Training Center is a goldmine for economic development. Entrepreneurs and businesses want to be where green innovation is happening, and it's happening right here in Austin and right here at American YouthWorks."

The Green Training Center, which will be complete in August 2009, has also received a Workforce Training Grant from DOL's Employment and Training Administration and continues to seek investment to ensure success.

For more information, visit American YouthWorks.

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Do you have a story idea, case study or topic that you would like to see covered in this newsletter? Do you want to comment on something you read here? Email us and your comment or idea could be featured in the next EDA Update!

APA's Tools-of-the-Trade Part Two: Strategy 1 — Coordination of Economic Development Programs and Support Services

Intraregional coordination, which works at the very broadest level of coordination, is the effort to avoid competition among communities within a region. In APA's Tools-of-the-Trade, (Website) economic development practitioners can assess how job creation and retention in one community has economic effects that spill over city boundaries for the benefit of the entire region.

Federal Funding Opportunity Now Available for EDA's University Center Economic Development Program

EDA is now soliciting applications for the FY 2009 University Center Economic Development Program competition, to take place in EDA's Atlanta and Seattle regional offices. A notice was published in the Federal Register (74 FR 7856). EDA is soliciting applications from accredited institutions of higher education and from consortia of accredited institutions of higher education in the geographic areas served by its Atlanta and Seattle regional offices.

The deadline for receipt of applications is April 21, 2009, at 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time for EDA's Atlanta regional office and 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time for EDA's Seattle regional office. All other information and requirements for the FY 2009 University Center Economic Development Program competition may be found in the February 20, 2009, Federal Register notice (74 FR 7856) and the companion federal funding opportunity announcement on EDA's Website.

EDA Excellence in Economic Development Awards 2009

The competition for EDA's Excellence in Economic Development Awards 2009 has begun. The awards are designed to recognize innovative economic development accomplishments and best practices across the United States.

Please review and download the Awards 2009 entry brochure available on http://www.eda.gov/.

EDA is accepting entries through April 16, 2009.

If you have any questions, contact Barbara Earman in EDA's Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs Division at 202-482-4521 or at awards@eda.doc.gov.

Coming Soon!

March 25–27, 2009

NADO's Economic Development Finance Service Conference New Orleans, LA [Website]

April 14–15, 2009

Center for Automotive Research, Roads to Renewal Chicago, IL [Website]

April 19–22, 2009

NBIA's 23rd International Conference on Business Incubation Kansas City, MO [Website]

April 25–29, 2009

APA's 101st National Planning Conference Minneapolis, MN

May 3–5, 2009

Southeast Workforce and Economic Development Conference; Atlanta, GA [Website]

June 1–4, 2009

2009 IEDC Technology-Led Economic Development Conference and IASP World Conference on Science and Technology Parks; The Research Triangle Park, NC