Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Regional Business Summit

Our friends at the Economy League have been busy. In addition to the Budget Challenge they have been getting local business leaders together to talk about the regional economy. A transcript is available in a 15 page pdf file. I skimmed through parts, but not all of it, and found the section on green jobs intriguing.

Here are a few quotes from that part:

“We have an extremely inefficient labor market exchange,” said DVIRC’s Girifalco. “Education systems are not producing people with the education and skill set for the jobs that we really need.” The Philadelphia School District has 167,000 students and a 50% drop out rate. Some progress has been made, and there is promise ahead with Dr. Ackerman at the helm. But getting it done – how fast is fast enough?”

The unemployment discussion led to the topic of “green jobs,” which many labor leaders say translates as “blue collar jobs.” But those attending the roundtable said it was not an easy transition. “In general there’s been a lack of approach as far as ‘green’ jobs and sustainability,” said Wigglesworth. “For some trades, when you’ve got ‘green buildings’ to work on, there is 50% more plumbing and electrical time and expense, and 40% more wiring.”

Girifalco added, “I think the region has the potential to be a center for power and energy given the mix of industries involved – power generation and distribution, transportation (ships, helicopters, rail cars), chemical production and processing, fuel cell research and production, the Navy’s NAVSEA complex at the Navy Yard, the regional SMART Energy Industry Partnership, nanotechnology‐based efficiencies and
breakthroughs, and a strong university‐based research component.”

“Green is here to stay.” D’Alba concurred. “In this market, we have a distinct advantage because of the great bones of our transportation network, a ‘walkable’ downtown, and our beloved Fairmount Park. It does not take long for people to realize we have good green assets that are attractive to companies, employees, and families.”

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