Mayor Rybak Calls for Jobs, Enhancing Energy Efficiency and New Financing Tools for Green Manufacturing and Clean-Energy Economy
At forum with Treasury Secretary Geithner, local officials and Blue Green Alliance, Rybak touts Minneapolis results and praises local collaboration, support from President Obama
January 28, 2010 (MINNEAPOLIS) — Mayor R. T. Rybak today called on the federal government to support regional efforts to move Minneapolis–Saint Paul to the forefront of green manufacturing, both with support for jobs and energy efficiency and by providing new financing tools for businesses in the clean-energy economy.
Mayor Rybak delivered this message to U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner at a roundtable discussion in Golden Valley at the offices of Honeywell International, a leader in the implementation of manufacturing-efficiency measures. The roundtable was hosted by Honeywell and the Mayors’ Green Manufacturing Initiative of the Blue Green Alliance. Other local officials, including U.S. Representatives Keith Ellison and Betty McCollum and Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, also addressed those in attendance.
Mayor Rybak in particular stressed the urgent need for the federal government to fund a $37-million grant application that will create 1,300 jobs by reducing energy costs in 50% of all buildings in Minneapolis and Saint Paul neighborhoods over the next 10 years. It would represent a "triple win" by creating jobs, producing significant savings through energy efficiency, and reducing carbon emissions by 225,000 metric tons in just three years. It would create needed demand for jobs in the clean-energy economy for which Minneapolis and Saint Paul are already training workers, especially those who are currently unemployed or hard to employ.
Mayor Rybak praised the Obama administration for their strong support of regional efforts to move Minnesota to the forefront of green manufacturing and the clean-energy economy, He also praised the consistent collaboration between regional cities, counties, labor unions, businesses and workforce councils.
Below are Mayor Rybak’s remarks as prepared for delivery.
We’re very grateful to President Obama for his consistent support of green manufacturing and clean-energy jobs, and we thank Secretary Geithner for coming here today to highlight the work we’re doing in Minnesota.
Before I get into how we got to this point and the results we’ve achieved so far in moving the region to the front of the clean-energy and green-manufacturing economy, I want to tell Secretary Geithner about two things that we need to do, and for which we need his and President Obama’s help, to advance our work even further and take our results to the next level:
1) First, we need to create demand for products and work that will create jobs for unemployed and currently hard-to-employ people both on the bench and in our communities. Nowhere can the federal government have a greater immediate impact than in funding the Energy Efficiency Conservation Block Grant application that the City of Minneapolis submitted on behalf of the regional partnership.
If you fund our $37 million application, you will help us:
o Create 1,300 new jobs;
o Reduce energy consumption in 50% of all buildings in Minneapolis and Saint Paul within the next ten years and remove barriers to building energy retrofits;
o Target several major commercial corridors in Minneapolis and Saint Paul and their adjacent neighborhoods, representing a broad cross section of buildings, uses, incomes and ownership structures; and
o Save an estimated 225,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions in the first three years.
In short, it will represent a triple win for our community and our economy. It will:
o Create jobs;
o Reduce energy costs for businesses; and
o Reduce emissions.
And it makes sense, because this grant will build on the federal Pathways out of Poverty grant that Minneapolis and Saint Paul received just last week. Those much-needed funds will help us train unemployed and hard-to-employ workers to get good, family-supporting jobs in green manufacturing and energy efficiency and help them move in to the middle class.
In other words, you’re already helping us train workers — now help us create the jobs they need to get to work.
2) Second, we need specialized financing tools for green-manufacturing businesses — which the task force here today identified as the biggest gap in growing the green economy. We hear from businesses every day that they are having trouble getting traditional financing for three things:
o Well-planned, sound construction projects, from housing, to industry, to mixed use;
o Early-stage financing for new products ranging from a more efficient light bulb, to solar panels a homeowner can install themselves, to bio-fuel development; or
o Everything, if you’re a small business. Small businesses are still struggling to get financing for working capital to expansion plans.
In short, we need the Administration’s continued help to get credit flowing again for innovation and expansion.
Now for how we got here and the results we’ve achieved so far.
Three years ago, Mayor Chris Coleman — a great partner — and I started working with the Blue Green Alliance on a regional approach to make Minneapolis–Saint Paul the center of the emerging green economy. There were two main reasons:
1) To create jobs, because we knew that green-sector jobs were growing faster than other jobs — and are currently growing six times faster than jobs in the economy at large; and
2) To do our part to reverse climate change.
But our two cities couldn’t do it alone, which is why the Blue Green Alliance’s pioneering, cross-sector approach — which brings government, labor, business and workforce development to the table — has been so important.
Three years ago, we got the conversation started — but we haven’t just talked, we’ve produced results. I want to mention just a few of the things that we’re doing in the City of Minneapolis:
• We’re using the City’s purchasing power to grow demand for green business products. For example:
o We adopted a Green Purchasing Policy a year ago, and now over 50% of the office supplies that the City purchases are certified green products, up from 19% a year ago.
o We adopted LEED building standards and are building our new Public Works maintenance facility to LEED Gold standards.
o We are installing solar panels atop the City's convention center using a local business and local labor — and it will be the largest array in the upper Midwest.
• We’re partnering with the Minneapolis Chamber of Commerce to build a green business-to-business network
• We’re working with specific emerging businesses to locate and grow in Minneapolis, such as ReGo, a start-up business that converts gas vehicles to electric — and we’re exploring having them convert some of the City’s fleet.
• We’re training the workforce of the future, working in partnership with unions, community-based organizations, technical and community colleges. The federal Pathways Out Of Poverty grant that we received with Saint Paul to train unemployed, disadvantaged and hard-to-employ workers in green manufacturing and clean-energy jobs will help advance this work significantly.
While we’re proud of these results, we need to take this work to the next level with the new financing tools and the ability to create demand that I mentioned.
There is one more thing we need, and not just in Minneapolis–Saint Paul: as part of any legislative package on energy and jobs, we need action on climate change, too. It will unleash more innovation not only here, but across America, and will create even more clean-energy jobs. And frankly, if we don’t get action on climate change from Congress, we’ll end up buying post-carbon technologies from China. And that will defeat the purpose of our efforts here.
Thanks to President Obama, Secretary Geithner and everyone in this room for the results youve produced so far in pushing Minnesota to the forefront of the clean-energy economy. Lets keep up the good work and deliver on the promise that good, unionized, family-supporting jobs and a sustainable economy and environment can, do and must go together.
Published Jan. 28, 2010