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* Jobs and Economic Growth Forum finds financing a key block

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State Rep. Maralyn Chase, D-32nd Dist., listens during a forum on jobs and economic growth, Dec. 7, 2009, at Shoreline Community College. More photos.

The current tight credit market is squeezing out the possibility of significant growth for the green economy and green-collar jobs, according to speakers at a forum on how to spur both areas. 

“We need to establish parameters for green lending,” said Jeff King, manager for Cascade Bank’s Shoreline Branch. King was one of 25 people attending the Monday, Dec. 7, 2009, forum hosted at Shoreline Community College. State Rep. Maralyn Chase, D-32nd Dist., was moderator.

 

Chase called for the forum at White House behest after President Barack Obama’s similar meeting this past week in Washington, D.C. The President is schedule to address jobs creation again in a speech Tuesday, Dec. 13. “I’m not sure how many of these forums are happening around the country, but we’re doing it and we’ll get the information back to the President,” Chase said.

 

King said that with banking rules and regulations “changing so dramatically,” it is difficult for him to make a loan for an energy efficiency retrofit such as insulation, solar module installation or other green projects. “I may be able to make a home equity loan, if there is equity, but much more difficult for a business,” he said. “If I can’t do the loan, I will call around, but it is tight.”

 

Mike Nelson, director of SCC’s Clean Energy Technology Center, got the forum directed at financing with a quick Economics 101 lesson.

 

“Businesses don’t create jobs, markets create jobs and markets don’t happen without capital,” said Nelson, who is also with the Washington State University Energy Extension and director of the Northwest Solar Center. “The most important thing to create is the financing. The technology is ready, the financing isn’t.”

 

Roger Valdez, a researcher associate with Sightline Institute, agreed with financing as the crux of the problem.

 

“At Sightline, we’ve been researching green-collar jobs and what needs to be done to stoke demand,” Valdez said. “The major problem is there is no access to easy financing.”

 

Running a close second to financing was worker training, specifically, certified training that is tied to industry and jobs, Valdez said.

 

“That’s just what we do at the Professional Automotive Training Center here at Shoreline,” said Don Schultz, director of the program that is tied to manufacturers and dealers. “All of the training is certified by ASE (Automotive Service Excellence) and the manufacturers. When they leave us, they have a degree and certifications they can take anywhere.”

 

Jim Hammond, director of the Puget Sound Auto Dealers Association, said the school’s model can be replicated in other industries. “This is the national leader in automotive technician training,” Hammond said.

 

Schultz said he and other college are working on partnerships that would bring national certifications criteria to clean-energy technology training and jobs.

 

SCC President Lee Lambert reminded the group that automotive technician careers are green-economy jobs. “These are green jobs,” Lambert said. “We’re training them in a paperless environment, a clean environment, an emphasis on recycling.”

 

Others representing groups at the forum included: Dusty Hoerler of Sustainable Works, Shoreline City Council members Chris Eggen and Janet Way; Shoreline Chamber of Commerce President  Wendy DiPeso, Larry Owens of NW Mechanical and Shoreline Solar Project, Maryn Wynne, Shoreline Solar Project, John Vicklund, director of Washington Manufacturing Institute, Mark McVeety of the Small Business Accelerator program at SCC, and Jim Hansen of Ravenna Capital Management.

SCC/Jim Hills

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