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Published: Friday, 8/15/2008

Local leaders focus on 'green-collar' jobs

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Toledo and Lucas County officials have teamed up to create a "green-collar" job-training and placement program to assist renewable energy and energy-efficient companies, Toledo Councilman Joe McNamara and Lucas County Commissioner Tina Skeldon Wozniak announced yesterday.

"This is the type of program we need to help our work force be ready for these new jobs," Ms. Wozniak said.

She said the 16-week program would help continue the evolution of Toledo's manufacturing and factory work force, which in the past was heavily invested in the automotive industry, into green-collar jobs.

The American Solar Energy Society in November said renewable energy and energy-efficient industries were responsible for creating nearly 8.5 million jobs in 2006, and that number is expected to reach 40 million by 2030.

Toledo will not be left out, the two politicians promised.

"We are serious about growing our green businesses," Mr. McNamara said. "We want to be a livable city on the cutting edge of the green economy."

Hoping for a boom in green-collar jobs, local governments across the nation have tried different strategies to encourage environmentally oriented start-up companies and help those already operating.

The Toledo-Lucas County Green Jobs Partnership will provide green-collar job training and placement to workers in Lucas County. It will seek to serve up to 80 trainees in four training sessions in 2009.

John Witte, of Advanced Distributed Generation, a Toledo-based photovoltaic system integration company, praised the initiative as a means to educate workers.

Mr. McNamara asked that any local companies interested in joining a "Green Employer Council," which will help develop a curriculum for the program, to contact him or Ms. Wozniak.

He said the new program would begin with an eight-week training program that will involve several rotations of different work. The trainees will then be placed in an eight-week paid internship, for which the employers will be asked to pay 25 percent of the salaries.

The ultimate goal is to place the trainees in permanent jobs, he added.

Mr. McNamara said funding for the program could come from the city but he would be working to secure grants.

Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner has urged Gov. Ted Strickland to establish an Ohio Center for Renewable Energy and Sustainable Development at the University of Toledo.

In addition, Mr. Finkbeiner said the region is recognized as the United States' solar-manufacturing center and is developing wind, water, ethanol, and biodiesel clusters.

Contact Ignazio Messina at:

imessina@theblade.com

or 419-724-6171.



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