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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Panel discusses future of green jobs in Milwaukee

From an article by Tony DiZinno in the Marquette Tribune:

Two major points came out of Tuesday’s business forum on future green job growth in Wisconsin.

A panel of experts said more money needs to arrive as expected from part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act — commonly known as the stimulus package — and potential candidates to fill the new jobs require higher levels of education and skill sets.

Before the panel spoke, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett gave a speech on his blueprint of the green job movement.

“Green jobs are a continuum of what jobs are now,” Barrett said. “Since work is done at the local levels, it is important to us to be involved in this. We have such a need for business development.”

Money appropriated as a part of the stimulus package, the panelists said, has been slow to arrive and will largely determine the future of green jobs in Milwaukee and Wisconsin.

“There’s been a lot of talk, but very little has actually entered the market,” said Tom Boldt, chief executive officer of Oscar J. Boldt Construction in Appleton. He added that he expects 2010 and 2011 to attract more funds.

Clay Nesler, vice president of global energy and sustainability for the building efficiency sector of Johnson Controls, said the stimulus package had the unintended consequence of halting projects that were in progress because workers and investments slowed while waiting for the “free money.”

He added he hopes companies can attract matching funds and create projects with “seed money,” funds that can be extrapolated over a longer period of time.

The described longer period of time involves integrating the new workers into the workplace. The jobs that have the potential to be created offer higher salaries on average, but require a corresponding higher level of available skills, the panel said.

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