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New West Blog
by: Courtney Lowery
June 17, 2010

Green Jobs Growing in the Rockies

A new report from the research group Headwaters Economics shows the number of “green” jobs growing rapidly in the Rocky Mountain West and suggest the clean energy and energy efficiency sectors offer the most promise for the region’s future.
The report defines the “green economy” as “all of those enterprises and individuals who work to provide products, services, and knowledge associated with: clean energy produc tion, energy efficiency, natural resource conservation, and efforts to curb and clean-up environmental pollution.”
Between 1995 and 2007, jobs in those sectors outpaced the general regional job growth fairly significantly, except in two states (Montana and Utah). Jobs grew by 19 percent overall in the region during that time period, while green jobs grew 30 percent. In New Mexico, the growth was most apparent. Green jobs outpaced the average growth rate 62 percent to 13 percent.
The report’s authors use those statistics to make the point that the region has great potential to dig itself out of the current economic downturn by investing in and creating policy that supports the green economy and specifically, clean energy and energy efficiency.
The report holds Colorado up as an example of the promise the green economy offers. According to the report, in 2007, Colorado was home to 50 percent of the region’s green enterprises. Utah and New Mexico had 16 percent and Montana had 11 percent. Wyoming came in last with 6 percent.
Colorado also boasts the most amount of venture capital flowing into the green economy. Between 2006 and 2008 alone, Colorado ventures brought in $800 million in capital and ranked 5 nationwide because of that.
The report concludes with the author’s suggestions for five key strategies that could help the region capitalize on the green economy, including: offering better incentives and policy, attracting new investment, creating an encouraging business environment, providing better leadership (Montana, New Mexico and Colorado all get props, while leaders in Utah and Wyoming are criticized for their “indifferent approach to clean energy...") and figuring out a way to overcome infrastructure issues, in specific, an outdated grid and sometimes non-existent permitting processes.
You can download and read the full report here.
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