Green Jobs Policy - How Do we Scale Green Jobs?

I'm writing from the Green Jobs Policy Panel at the 2010 SJF Summit. The panelists spoke about community based policies that help to create green jobs as well as broad trends in green jobs policy.

The first panelist, Cyrus Bhedwar, spoke about a slew of community initiatives underway.  Two programs of note include the Green Impact Zone of Missouri, which consolidates ARRA resources for those in Missouri.  Another is the STAR Community Index which Cyrus defined as a "Leeds certification for communities."

Another panelist, Melissa Bradley, spoke about the challenges of scaling green jobs both from a public policy standpoint and a boots-on-the-ground standpoint.  On the policy side, we are facing a national risk in our energy efficiency policy because it has been paired with poverty policy and is starting to look like welfare with no meta-strategy.

On the grassroots private sector side, lenders are trying to figure out how to increase demand for loans to finance energy retrofits in society in which people don't know what is meant by energy efficiency.  The opportunity is to help people understand energy efficiency as our wallet sizes are decreasing.

In short, the government needs to do its part with policy, and we must not forget that ultimately, our goal is to create as many jobs as possible.

A few programs were discussed.  The SBA (Small Business Administration) administers loans through the green loans program.  They also have a pollution control program.  The SBA can speak to qualitative examples of loan success; however, they still cannot speak quantitatively about loan success:  Their sample size is still to small (in the hundreds, not the thousands that would be needed to access high levels of capital).  There are also public benefit funds at the state level in places like MA and IL.  These funds can range from between $1M and $300M.

Entrepreneurs are always looking for leverage, and policy is one leverage point.  The challenge is that grant programs are highly competitive, which creates silos.  Our challenge is to break down th divisions that these policies create to reach more entrepreneurs so that we can achieve scale. -- Joel Thomas