Connecting the Green Economy Dots

At 7 AM this morning I came back from jogging and opened the paper. The top story in today's Raleigh News and Observer is on Durham-based Cree, local and global manufacturer of super efficient LED lighting. The firm is expanding for the second time this year to the tune of $135 million, and plans to add 244 jobs in the next two years.  An hour later, I was in the car heading for an appointment and heard a story on NPR about Mountain Rose Herbs, a Eugene, OR based distributor of organic dried herbs that has continued to grow and thrive, even in the midst of the recession. The firm has impressive sustainability practices -- it is zero waste and recycles everything down to paper towels. And Mountain Rose has great people practices too, with the top executives capping their pay at 3.5 times entry level, and a strong emphasis on community service.

The confluence of both of these top stories in one day is clear evidence that, just as the myriad of speakers pointed out last week at our SJF Summit on the New Green Economy, cleantech broadly defined is a sector that stands to be financially sustainable and a source of economic development and jobs well into the future. 

I hope that local and national reporters and policy makers will connect the dots and see this as a broad trend of economic growth and job creation through the green economy, rather than just a few unconnected instances of companies that happen to do well by doing good. There is more we can do to invest in and grow the green economy, and as Oberlin professor David Orr said in his keynote last Wednesday, this is the Great Work of our generation and we can't start soon enough.

-- Anne Claire Broughton, SJF Institute