Chicago Green Jobs

Green Jobs and Governor Quinn: The Proposed State Budget
March 19, 2009, 4:12 am
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Our shiny new governor, Pat Quinn, is pitching a $26 billion jobs plan as part of his $53 billion fiscal year 2010 state budget. In his first address to the state legislature today, he said the plan will “support” 340,000 jobs. What with the state unemployment rate at 7.9% (which means 500,000 people are looking for work), “supporting” jobs definitely seems like a good plan. “Creating” 340,000 jobs would be better, but I think we can all agree that naming nearly half of the budget the “Illinois Jobs Now” initiative is pretty smart politics. So let’s go to the details:

– $14 billion to build and upgrade roads and bridges

– $5 billion to improve public transit

– $4 billion to repair schools

– $ 1 billion for economic development efforts

– $2 billion for environmental, energy and technology projects

Hmmm…necessary infrastructure, necessary infrastructure, more necessary infrastructure – wait! Environmental, energy and tech projects sounds pretty green jobalicious! Unfortunately, Governor Quinn didn’t go into any detail with regard to just what those environmental projects would be. On the other hand, he gave a shout out to incorporating sustainable features into that $14 billion on building roads and bridges: “We won’t just pour concrete and asphalt. We’ll make sure major projects are energy-efficient and sustainable.” Right on, Quinn – we need sustainability integrated into all our new spending, not fenced off into isolated projects.

Of course, this same speech to the legislature included the minor little detail that this $53 billion budget counts on a 50% income tax increase.  The proposed shift from a 3% to a 4.5% tax rate would be the first income tax increase in 20 years, which gives you an idea of just how hard it is to sell tax increases in the land of Lincoln.

So Quinn’s budget is the opening salvo in what is sure to be a hard fight to figure out a way to address the state’s $11.5 billion deficit. For the moment, we can at least be confident that Quinn will propose green spending and green collar job creation. Now we need to get on the phone and see about talking our state legislatures into passing that spending.


Van Jones and Chicago
March 13, 2009, 2:27 am
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Van Jones, everybody’s favorite green collar jobs activist, has accepted a job as White House adviser on green jobs. Jones will be working from the Council on Environmental Quality, which coordinates federal agency efforts on the president’s energy, climate change and other environmental policy initiatives. In other words, Jones will be working across all agencies to ensure that green job policy is consistent. The Green For All founder is famous for his stance that green jobs should be made available to people at all rungs of the economic ladder, so this appointment is a strong sign that we’re going to see some serious attention paid to the working poor.

This is objectively awesome, but what does it mean for Chicago? Well for one thing, I’ll have to change the details on the Van Jones quote that headlines this site – now it will read:

“Chicago is the symbol of what a green-collar renaissance can look like.” Van Jones, White House Adviser on Green Jobs

Seriously though, this could be good news for Chicago. Van Jones knows who we are and he likes what he sees. Chicago is highlighted in a user’s guide to the stimulus bill called “Bringing Home the Green Recovery” published by Green For All. The conclusion? Chicago’s Climate Action Plan offers a perfect set of guidelines to spend the stimulus money in ways that best create green jobs.

So we’ve got a man in a position to shape green job policy and funding who is not only a fan of Chicago’s efforts to become a leading green city, he’s  blessed our Climate Action Plan as a model for stimulus funding. I have high hopes from this appointment.

To read the excerpt on Chicago in the “Bringing Home the Green Recovery” report, go to the jump!

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Brush up your job skills with C3
March 11, 2009, 2:00 am
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Job hunting in the age of the webernets can be a dismal excercise – surfing job listings all day is temptingly easy, but it’s just not that effective. Developing New Skills and Growing Your Network™ is the official best practice recommended by all the job hunting pros, which is easier said than done. Luckily, the city of Chicago has a program that helps green job hunters do just that: the Chicago Conservation Corps, or C3, offers training in leadership and project management to folks interested in becoming environmental leaders in their communities – and provides up to $500 to fund the community project of your choice.

For the $75 registration fee, it’s a pretty stellar deal for anyone who wants to develop their professional skills in a hands-on way while making connections both within the community and with their classmates. And for job hunters, executing a local green project is an excellent way to keep your resume current. The training itself is really strong – participants get a good grounding both in sustainability and project management over a series of five courses (details here). And better yet, C3 offers mentorship and project development guidance over several months after the original trainings.

If you’re interested, then you need to act soon: all participants must attend an hour’s worth of orientation, and these sessions are happening over the next week:

  • Wednesday, March 11 — 7pm-8pm, Chicago Park District’s South Shore Cultural Center, 7059 S. South Shore Dr.
  • Saturday, March 14 — 10am-11am, Chicago Center for Green Technology, 445 N. Sacramento
  • Monday, March 16 — 12pm-1pm, Chicago Department of Environment, 30 N. LaSalle 25th Fl

It’s a pretty cool program, but don’t take my word for it! Check their blog for some stories from participants.

Chicago Climate Exchange, Are You Ready For Your Close Up?
February 28, 2009, 2:36 am
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The hot topic around the water cooler today: is our very own Chicago Climate Exchange going to become America’s official greenhouse-gas emission trading system?

For those of you who don’t obsessively follow budget news, here’s the deal: the budget blueprint Obama just sent to Congress projects ten years out, and his numbers assume that we’ll be getting $78.7 billion in revenue from a greenhouse-gas cap-and-trade market by 2012. It’s the job of Congress to send Obama a bill creating such a system, and with the revenues due in just four years they don’t have any time to shilly-shally. What does this mean for Chicago? More after the jump.

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London Calling
February 20, 2009, 4:25 am
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Acre Resources, a UK based green recruitment agency, has just opened its first US office right here in Chicago.  Acre has placed thousands of professionals in the Environment, Sustainability, and Climate Change sectors, and a quick survey of their current postings includes some truly fabulous job titles. Environmental Fate Modeller! Ecotoxicologist! Global Head, Carbon Origination! Sales & Marketing Manager!

Sadly, all those jobs are located in England – there’s nothing local posted yet.  The company’s managing director, Andy Cartland, says that even though the green market is growing that it’s still relatively small.  For some context consider this: Acre, which bills itself as the global green recruitment leader, places fewer than 100 people a month in green roles.

Still, Cartland is confident that the need for green jobs is on the rise and he’s betting that Chicago is going to be the next big green business hub in the US.  Acre has opened an office of one here in town with plans to expand if their bet pays off. Help them out by logging your CV (British for resume!) here.

It’s Not Going to Happen Overnight
February 19, 2009, 2:42 pm
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The Chicago Tribune has a good reality check on green jobs today.  Cook County is gearing up to capitalize on a green manufacturing boom, but between the economy and the sheer logistical weight of building up a new industry it’s going to take a while.

To take an example, community colleges are developing new courses on subjects like geothermal and biomass energy and working out ways to offer state green certification. Hooray! But those courses haven’t even been finalized yet, much less included in the curriculum. So we’re at least two years out from having any graduates. Boo!

You have to walk before you fly, of course. But the prospect of new jobs in a year or two is small comfort to the communities suffering from 20% unemployment right now.