Green-collar jobs

Renewable energy sector could restore economy, and Kankakee County, Ill., wants to be at the forefront.


Suddenly, taking care of the environment has implications that reach far beyond solving global warming. Efforts to reduce carbon emissions are now also being hailed as a way to save the country's faltering economy, reports a story in the Daily Journal .

Thanks to the recent presidential election where candidates U.S. Sen. John McCain and President-elect Barack Obama pegged some of their economic recovery plans on reducing independence on foreign oil and creating jobs in the renewable energy sector, the "green economy" movement has taken on new life.

No one knows this better than a group of business, education, and government leaders, who are working together to position Kankakee County, Ill., in the forefront of the green jobs revolution that's beginning to sweep the nation.

The Economic Alliance of Kankakee County , the Sustainability Center at Kankakee Community College , the Grundy Livingston Kankakee Workforce Board , the Kankakee Area Career Center , the Illinois Dept. of Commerce and Economic Opportunity , and members of the Citizen's Sustainability Committee have been working together for the past few months on several aspects of the issue.

Green recovery
"Studies indicate with an economic recovery program, jobs are created in green industries," said Mike Van Mill, alliance president and CEO. "We need to position ourselves to capture that ... to aggressively go out and approach these companies."

A recent report predicts 2 million jobs could be created in the green jobs sector nationwide in the next two years -- and nearly 84,000 of those jobs would be in Illinois.

" Green Recovery, A Program to Create Good Jobs and Start Building a Low-Carbon Economy ," released in September, calls for a $100 billion investment in key areas such as retrofitting buildings, expanding mass transit and freight rail, constructing smart energy grids and expanding production of wind power, solar power, and advanced biofuels.

The report was created by the Center for American Progress , a Washington D.C.-based think tank that advocates on a number of policy issues. The center is directed by John Podesta, former chief of staff to President Bill Clinton and the head of Obama's transition team.

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