Green companies in need of workers

January 22, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
As high-tech stocks wither, green business grows. With all this economic turbulence, how is this emerging industry staying immune?

With all the growing anxiety about the Silicon Valley, East Bay officials are asking you to take a closer look at the area they've dubbed "the green corridor."

An area that's home to "environmentally-friendly" companies in need of workers.

Berkeley Mills is a green business because it uses wood that is not harvested by clear cutting, and only one-percent of the land is cut each year.

The manual labor jobs it creates are called green collar jobs.

"I see it growing through all economies. Not just because it's an industry, but because it's a movement," said Gene Agress, CEO Berkeley Mills.

"The study shows that green collar jobs are worth fighting for," said San Francisco State University Professor Raquel Pinderhughes, Ph.D.

A report, unveiled on Tuesday by SFSU professor Raquel Pinderhughes shows Berkeley Mills is one of many green businesses flourishing while the economy is on the brink of a recession.

In fact, 86-percent of the green businesses identified in this report said they were experiencing significant growth.

She says that's because new policies are coming down the pipeline, from global to local levels, mandating change.

"Every time you have a policy which says to a locality, 'You need to change your behavior' you have to have a set of goods and services in place to change those behaviors in the market," said professor Raquel Pinderhughes.

And that creates more jobs, but 73-percent of green employers say there's a shortage of green collar workers.

"The momentum is there. That's right. But the practical aspects have to be put in place," said Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates.

So Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates, wants to use the report as a foundation to establish more green collar vocational training in high schools, adult education and community colleges.

"We are transitioning into a new green economy," said Bates.

At the Mayor of Richmond's State of the City Address on Tuesday, she noted the importance of new green collar jobs to pull its residents out of poverty.

"It is essential that we assure Richmond youth are trained and ready to receive these forthcoming green collar jobs," said Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin from Richmond.

The green corridor partnership of Berkeley, Oakland, Emeryville and Richmond are already seeking federal funds to ensure it economic strength during hard times.