Green and clean focus of State of the Valley

February 20, 2009 7:42:30 PM PST
Green business and clean technology took the lead today during the 2009 State of the Valley Conference in San Jose.

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Leaders in business, education and technical innovation gathered for the conference, hosted by Joint Venture: Silicon Valley Network, a group that brings together such leaders to work on initiatives including those concentrating on the economy, health care and environmental protection.

A review of the effect the nation's economic crisis has had on Silicon Valley, including the South Bay and all of San Mateo County, started the conference this morning.

Joint Venture and the Silicon Valley Community Foundation joined to release this year's Silicon Valley Index, a packet of information and statistics from the area, which this year showed an increase in home foreclosures and unemployment.

The Index also showed the area's lack of investment in the arts, an increase in the teen birth rate and a 12 percent drop out rate for the 2006-2007 academic year.

However, Joint Venture President and CEO Russell Hancock stressed the valley's successes and hopes for its future. He pointed out growth in clean technology investment and the availability of green jobs.

"The silver lining is the emergence of the clean technology sector," Hancock said.

Hancock said the seeds have been planted for a major Silicon Valley comeback and likened the economic boom he predicted to the area's dot-com era successes of the past.

Emmett Carson, CEO and president of the Community Foundation, stressed the importance of education, and a panel discussion concentrated on the need for business and academic partnerships to ensure a skilled labor force will be ready for new green jobs.

San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, who co-chairs Joint Ventures' Board of Directors, was characteristically eager to talk about green jobs and the emergence of clean technology and its applications in San Jose and the rest of Silicon Valley.

Reed and other board co-chair Chris DiGiorgio introduced "Climate Prosperity - A Greenprint for Silicon Valley." The greenprint, a first draft of a plan to address global warming and create a more sustainable world, provides a strategy for leaders to address financial, educational and other areas necessary to address in moving the valley toward its "green future."

Reed said the vision for Silicon Valley will include opportunities for new innovation, new jobs and new ways to save money in green technology.

"Let's get to work," the mayor said in conclusion.

Today's conference also included a speech by Shai Agassi, founder and CEO of Better Place, a company that seeks to use current electric car technology to create energy independence. Agassi spoke enthusiastically about his plans to make electric cars less expensive and more convenient than combustion engine vehicles while keeping the electric vehicles 100 percent independent of oil.

Newsweek international editor Fareed Zakaria also spoke, ending today's event with a reflection on the global economy. Zakaria stated simply that energy technology will be similar to the information technology developments of the past, but cautioned that energy technology will face strict regulations that IT did not.

As the day ended, attendees were reminded of the partnerships between business, nonprofit, and education that will be crucial to the success of goals laid out during the conference.

Information about Joint Venture: Silicon Valley Network is available online at www.jointventure.org.

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