Don’t Believe the Hype: Cleantech Is Creating Jobs Now, And Can Generate Many More


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make up 1.8 percent of the jobs in the region (ranking 46th).

• Between 2003 and 2010, the region added 9,580 clean jobs (ranking 13th).

• Between 2003 and 2010, clean jobs grew 5.3 percent annually (ranking 28th).

• Each Seattle area cleantech job averages $10,389 in exports (ranking 69th).

• The average annual wage in the clean economy is $49,592 (slightly higher than the $48,592 for all jobs in the area).

This suggests what many of us have suspected. Cleantech in our region is significant and has the potential to become more important. We know that we have numerous cluster assets (several large leadership companies, popular support, and expertise in important fields such as building sciences, smart grid, and biofuels). But these findings also suggest that to create the jobs, companies, goods, and services that will benefit our region, more will need to be accomplished-particularly in light of the competition for this sector around the globe.

To build national clean economy leadership, “it is clear,” notes Brookings, “that the private sector will play the lead role, but governments have a role, too.” Brookings notes with disappointment the lack of a national energy and/or economic development strategy on the federal level. Other nations-notably Germany, Japan, and China-have been far more aggressive.

Brookings argues that economic growth is often generated within metropolitan regions. The authors note with optimism the role of the states and local governments-and regional organizations. California was cited for its requirement that 33 percent of power be generated by renewables by 2020. The Milwaukee Water Council is working to establish its region as the hub for water research, economic development, and education. Connecticut has established a ‘green bank’ to finance clean economy endeavors. New York City has created an Energy Efficiency Corporation to provide financing to install energy efficient infrastructure in buildings.

The Seattle region was particularly noted in the announcement webcast for the efforts of the Puget Sound Regional Council to create the Building Efficiency Testing and Integration (BETI) Center and Demonstration Network. This is a project to create a place for innovators in the energy-efficiency field to test their products, designs, and services prior to launching them into the marketplace, and learn about their integration with the other aspects of the built environment. It would give entrepreneurs an advantage by generating real-world data on the efficacy of their innovations.

We will need efforts like this—and more of them—to be successful in this global competition.

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J. Thomas Ranken is President & CEO of CleanTech Alliance Washington, the nation’s largest state-level clean technology industry association representing more than 300 businesses and organizations. Founded in 2007 by business leaders, the Alliance facilitates the generation and growth of cleantech companies, jobs, products and services to advance the state’s position as a leader in cleantech. Learn more at Follow @

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