Posted May 3rd 2012 4:00PM
There are a couple of updates from the intersection of Economy Avenue and Environment Way, regarding new jobs in the clean economy. If you are saying, "Which economy is that, because it still looks pretty dirty to me," then the first update is for you.
According to no less a source than the Internet, what used to be called "green" jobs and "green technologies" and, particularly, the "green economy" - now all they are all part of the "clean economy." Only old duffers who still unconsciously attempt to flip their phones open before remembering that they don't do that anymore (I've... heard of people doing this) say "green." Cool people, people whose babies attempt to swipe picture books as though they're iPads - they say "clean."
Click past the jump to read on.
Now that we know where we all stand, let's take a look at where we all stand - in this clean economy, that is. Environmental Entrepreneurs is an organization that works with the US Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) to provide the private sector with a platform for environmental information and advocacy. One of the services they provide is a regular update on growth in green jobs - sorry, make that clean jobs - in a publication with the oddly defensive title What Clean Energy Jobs? These Clean Energy Jobs! (Watch for sister publications like I Got Your Clean Energy Jobs Right Here and I Already Told Your Mama About These Clean Energy Jobs.)
The April 2012 edition of These Clean Energy Jobs has some good news on the jobs front, particularly for those of us keeping track of things that roll and their place in the economy. In the past several weeks, job announcements have come from 42 US states that new projects are underway that will bring clean-economy jobs to that state, for a total of 48,655 expected new jobs. Of these, 14,141 - or nearly one-third - are in automotive, biofuel, or public transportation sectors.
Some of these are coming to states that have long been significant hubs for automotive technology development, manufacturing, and second- and third-tier suppliers - and so took a substantial hit when the automotive industry staggered under the weight of the recent recession. Tennessee, for example, is seeing some of its first good economic news since 2008 in Nissan's recent announcement that it would be investing US$1.7 billion in a new facility there. The facility will manufacture the LEAF as well as Nissan's lithium ion battery packs. There's also been speculation over the past few days that the facility may make the new zero-emissions Infiniti LE Concept, which debuted earlier this month at the 2012 New York International Auto Show.
Another state that's been hard hit by the downturn in the automotive industry is, of course, Michigan. So it's nice to see that These Clean Energy Jobs has some good news for Michigan as well. The state was hit hard when a Ford plant idled and then closed in 2007. Since then, Michigan has been on an economic and emotional roller coaster as one project after another proposed to repurpose the site and re-employ at least some of the town's displaced workers, only to dwindle away as funding or political support or some other crucial ingredient proved unobtainable.
Now, however, it looks as though Michigan's fortunes are finally looking up. Townsend Energy Solutions, a holding company that invests in clean energy-based companies and technologies, has signed on the dotted line. Townsend will be building a renewable energy park for fuel-efficient vehicles and smart grid technologies. Funding for the project comes partly from Townsend and partly from the state of Michigan. The Michigan Economic Growth Authority approved a bundle of economic development and workforce development tax credits for the project, which estimates predict will add 36 jobs in the first year after it opens. The project's total investment will be US$237 million, and it's projected to create 875 jobs total in the first five years it's open.
Two other projects are coming to offer Michigan some solace for everything it's endured. The Teijin Advanced Composites America company will be investing up to US$7.9 million in an application development centre in Auburn Hills, MI, where it will develop automotive applications (among others) of carbon fiber reinforced thermoplastic composite products. Teijin already has an agreement with GM to develop these technologies for use in GM vehicles. The centre is expected to employ 25 people.
Meanwhile, Panasonic Automotive Systems Company of American is going to Farmington Hills, MI, to build an R&D centre. The facility will focus on technologies for electric-hybrid vehicles, including human-machine interfaces, electronics, and vehicle sound systems. Both of these projects, like Townsend's renewable energy park, received substantial investment from the state of Michigan.
Whether green or clean, these signs of new investment and growth give some reason for optimism that the U.S. automotive industry intends to grow by becoming more forward-looking than it's ever been before. Let's hope it keeps up.
News Source: Environmental Entrepreneurs