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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

East Bay Green Corridor Sets Goals for Green Jobs, Research, Schools

EBGC logoThe East Bay Green Corridor Partnership, of which Berkeley Lab is a founding member, held its second annual summit last Friday at the Oakland Museum. The group welcomed seven new members — Alameda, San Leandro, Albany, El Cerrito, Peralta Community College District, Contra Costa Community College District and California State University, East Bay — in its push to become the Silicon Valley of the green economy.

The East Bay Green Corridor was launched in December 2007 by the mayors of Oakland, Berkeley, Richmond and Emeryville and UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau and then-Lab Director Steve Chu. It recently received its first direct funding, $147,386 in a 2009 federal budget earmark, and hired its first staff person, whose salary will be paid by a $10,000 contribution from each of the 13 members.

“The East Bay Green Corridor Partnership can serve as a model for regional collaboration in clean energy,” said Energy Secretary Chu, who spoke by video to the packed audience. “We need efforts similar to yours nationwide. Your work can directly address some of our nation’s most pressing problems. Your work can drive job creation. With the economy in recession, we need to encourage the industries that will create jobs and ensure our future prosperity. Your work can also help prevent the worst effects of climate change.”

Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates identified some of the Green Corridor’s goals for the coming year:

· conduct an inventory of all industrial land available in the Corridor for green energy companies
· with a grant from the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce, take an inventory of space conducive to start-ups, with the goal of creating a “distributed incubator” near the UC Berkeley campus to attract spin-offs that may emerge from the campus or Berkeley Lab
· introduce venture capitalists to the Green Corridor and work more closely with them
· build bridges to low-income communities
· launch three greentech high school academies, with strong private sector support, to develop high school curriculum and career pathways in areas such as solar installation and energy auditing
· place at least 100 people in green jobs.

The federal earmark will go largely towards the high school academies and three green jobs training programs: Oakland Green Jobs Corps, Richmond BUILD, and the Rising Sun Energy Center in Berkeley.

Interim Lab Director Paul Alivisatos, who represented Berkeley Lab at the summit, spoke about some of the research being done at the Lab in clean energy. “The Lab is in a very strong position to be a vocal leader on research related to green technologies,” he said. “We’re very excited about working with the community around us.”

The Lab’s Acting Deputy Director Jay Keasling gave the keynote address and spoke about some of the work going on at the DOE’s Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI). “The goal is to send intellectual property out to companies, particularly companies in the East Bay, and grow companies that will develop the economy in the East Bay — biofuels companies, plant genetics companies, feedstocks companies, biotech companies and the like,” he said. “I think the East Bay Corridor is going to be the green place in the world. It right now is for research the most important place in the world, particularly in biofuels.”

The Partnership’s first director will be Carla Din, who has been the Western Regional Field Director of the non-profit Apollo Alliance since 2004. The Apollo Alliance is a coalition of labor, business, environmental and community leaders working on policies at the state and national levels to develop a clean energy economy. “We’ve been at the 30,000-foot level,” she said. “The Green Corridor gives me an opportunity to apply those policies on the ground, see them turn into jobs.” Din starts August 1 and will be housed at the East Bay Economic Development Alliance office in Oakland.

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