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Olseen Column: Green Jobs

Thursday, February 19th, 2009 at 10:41 am

061117-02-041Recently, the Green Jobs Task Force completed its work and outlined a set of recommendations aimed at growing Minnesota’s “green economy.”  With Minnesota’s vast potential to create renewable energy and produce alternative fuels, the Legislature thought it would be prudent to study how to prepare our state to take advantage of these economic development opportunities.

Thus, this task force was created in 2008 and is made up of a bipartisan coalition of legislators, business leaders, state agencies, policy experts, and citizens.  Our own state Rep. Jeremy Kalin served as the House co-chair of the task force.  The Green Jobs Task Force spent the past six months traveling around the state learning the needs of the private and academic sectors to promote green business.

The result of their hard work is a list of recommendations that are estimated to create or retain 70,000 Minnesota jobs and produce $15 billion a year for the state’s economy by 2020.

The Green Jobs Task Force recommended that Minnesota establish a Green Enterprise Authority to help new green businesses navigate the requirements for getting established.  Having this assistance in place will help businesses to develop successfully and get people to work more quickly.

The task force also recommended several proposals focused on renewable energy and energy conservation.  They suggested that the state fund biofuel research and development, so this sector of Minnesota’s economy could be expanded.  They feel the state should promote locally owned renewable-energy generation, to provide economic development opportunities for rural areas.  The Green Jobs Task Force also recommended state-sponsored financing options, such as interest-free or deferred-interest loans for renewable-energy projects or tax incentives for private investments in green businesses.

The task force recommended investments in energy-efficient wastewater treatment facilities and public building weatherization projects.  They also suggested the state explore opportunities to increase electric automobile infrastructure and manufacturing, to both decrease emissions and develop the economy.  Finally, the task force suggested that Minnesota train its workers and students in the skills needed to compete for green jobs in the manufacturing, engineering, transportation, and conservation sector.

The Green Jobs Task Force did some fine work identifying specific ways for Minnesota to move forward in the green economy.  By following their blueprint, we can set our state up for sustainable economic growth.  With smart planning and strategic investments, I believe Minnesota will be able to compete for the green jobs of the future.

For more information on the Green Jobs Task Force or their recommendations, you can visit www.mngreenjobs.com.  The task force will be releasing additional recommendations focused on Minnesota’s education and training needs in the upcoming weeks.

I encourage you to contact me with your questions or comments on any issue.  You may call me at 651-296-5419, send an e-mail to sen.rick.olseen@senate.mn, or write to G-24 State Capitol, St. Paul, MN 55155-1606.

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