The RI Economic Development Corporation just released the 20-page “Roadmap for Advancing the Green Economy in Rhode Island”. The report identified four acceleration initiatives to foster the development of the green economy: making the manufacturing industry energy efficient; constructing more energy efficient homes; cultivating the innovation of green technologies; and creating a hub for the wind farm industry.
According the the report, the state will need to overcome limited capital for businesses looking to capitalize on the green economy and a work force poorly trained to lead RI into a greener future.
To overcome the financing problem, the report recommends increasing the R.I. Industrial-Recreation Building Authority’s loan guarantee program to $80 million from $20 million; adding $5 million to the EDC’s Small Business Loan Fund to increase its funding to $18 million; doubling the R.I. Renewable Energy Fund to $5 million; and returning the nonprofit Slater Technology Fund’s annual appropriation to $3 million from the current $1 million.
As a small business owner I found the recommendation that the state appoint a statewide small business innovation research liaison to help link Rhode Island companies find federal financing opportunities of crticial importance. Making the transtion to sustainable practices requires education, resources and new skills; funding to help companies gain the tools they need will accelarate this transition.
To entice manufacturers and other businesses to adopt green technologies, the roadmap suggests that the state create incentives such as grants or tax credits to shorten the return on investment period. The report also recommends creating a fund to pay higher education and research-oriented companies to develop wind power technology and components.
The roadmap calls for the state’s public colleges to create certificate and undergraduate programs in energy efficiency. URI is in a strong position to host a Center of Excellence in Advanced Green Manufacturing. The report calls for the establishment of a Green Workforce Research and Innovation Lab that would vet ideas such as integrating a green curriculum into the public schools or creating public sector jobs to temporarily “hold” trained workers until private jobs are created. The institute would also offer fellowships for green research, develop internships and educate regulators. All of these efforts would significantly advance Rhode Islander’s access to green education, training and life long opportunities.
The roadmap supports a plan to bring 4 percent of all residential, commercial and public buildings into compliance with broadly accepted energy efficiency guidelines each year. And it supports the R.I. State Building Commission’s goal to have 90 percent of all new or renovated buildings meet the standards by 2017.
Where the money will come from in a time of budget deficits to successfully implement this raodmap is not outlined, so I feel like this is only the start; RI needs a green economybut we need a solid financial plan to give businesses the resources they need and we need education and training to help Rhode Islanders prepare for their future.
posted by KDL | Twitter
Filed under: Green, Green Economy | Tagged: RI Economic Development Corporation, RIEDC, Roadmap for Advancing the Green Economy in Rhode Island |