Article on Green Jobs and Obama

February 8, 2009

Posted by Douglas Carmichael

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — The same week that automakers sought billions in aid to avoid bankruptcy, two states, including Michigan, announced huge alternative power industry investments, with one site being built on land once set aside to lure auto manufacturers.

Manufacturing strongholds hardest hit by job losses years ago began laying the groundwork to land green jobs and may now be poised for the biggest gains, depending on federal economic stimulus funding.

The $900 billion economic package before Congress has more than $50 billion in energy-related incentives.

President Barack Obama has set a goal of doubling the use of renewable energy in three years, potentially placing states with established programs in a position to replace thousands of manufacturing jobs lost over the last decade.

Michigan created a $2 billion fund using tobacco settlement money to target four economic sectors, one being alternative energy.

The state, which has lost more than 150,000 automotive jobs over the past eight years, began using community colleges to retrain the unemployed and underemployed for green jobs.

“Employers, if you come to Michigan, we will deliver trained employees to you,” Gov. Jennifer Granholm said. “And employees, we will pay for your training, but the kicker is you’ve got to agree to be trained in an area that we know we have need in.”

The alternative energy industry, like others, is being shaken right now by a wave of layoffs and bankruptcies. Without help from the government, analysts are forecasting double digit declines in business and installations.

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