As Earth Day approaches in the middle of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, the urgency of our efforts to halt climate change are even more intertwined with the urgency of our efforts to turn our nation’s economy around.
Let’s face it: the economy of the past – whether we like it or not – is over. The old ways of doing business have literally run out of gas. For Minneapolis and this entire region to grow out of this recession, we can’t just seek to recover, can’t just rebuild, we must reinvent. We must reinvent how we work together to create opportunity, to put people to work, and to grow.
At the center of this reinvention lies the hope of the new green economy. Minneapolis is at the forefront of the new green economy because we have the educated workforce, the innovative business culture and the political will needed to seize the opportunity of this moment.
With our new Minneapolis Green Jobs Institute we are putting people to work by training and placing workers into the new green economy. By bringing together Minneapolis Community and Technical College, Dunwoody College, and Summit Academy we are developing a worker training curriculum with the Center for Energy and the Environment and validated by the Minneapolis Community Action Program.
Three green job targets have been established, with specialty educators at all three institutions: home weatherization (Summit Academy), energy auditors (Dunwoody) and building recommissioning technicians (MCTC). We are looking to add other partners to prepare the green workforce of the future and with the help of federal dollars this project can hit the ground running.
With our business development tools we are helping green business grow. City staff from a dozen departments coordinated through Minneapolis Development Review help entrepreneurs and business owners navigate the ins and outs of starting a new business: how to get financing, where to locate, what you need to build, how to craft a marketing and business plan; and how to make your business greener.
We are also working with the City of Lakes Chamber of Commerce and Hennepin County to host the Greening Your Business Expo, an opportunity for businesses to learn about and promote their sustainable and eco-friendly products and services. This “B-2-B focused” event is the first of its kind in the region.
By working together, I’m confident that we can make this city and this region a global center of the new green economy. In the process we will create jobs and grow business. Thanks for being part of the solution; let’s get to work.
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