“The most exciting part of what’s happening here is that these programs are aligning with what Ohio communities and universities are doing to tap into the green economy and the green revolution,” said U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-17 Ohio, who with U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, joined Solis on a conference call to announce the grants. “Our manufacturing base isn’t just our past now, it’s our future.”Ohio, Brown said, already has a skilled work force and “a rich manufacturing heritage. These funds are targeted for communities that have been hit hardest by job loss in the auto industry,” he continued. “They will lead to good-paying jobs and will help Ohio become the Silicon Valley of clean energy manufacturing.”
Greater Youngstown is betting a lot of resources on clean tech manufacturing and innovation. That's why I follow this storyline so closely. If you want to move back, then you best keep that in mind. Follow the money trail.
But is the region making a smart bet? A recent report highlighting the relatively robust venture capital investment in clean tech suggests that it is:
In a flurry of deal making bolstered by government subsidies for renewable energy, venture capitalists invested $5.6 billion in green technology companies worldwide in 2009, according to a preliminary report released Wednesday by the Cleantech Group and Deloitte. ...... “In 2009, clean-tech went from a niche category to become the dominant category in venture capital investing,” said Dallas Kachan, managing director of the Cleantech Group, a San Francisco market research and consulting firm. “Clean-tech continued to outpace software and biotech.”
I emphasized the caveat in what looks to be good news for the clean tech sector. There's a debate about whether or not public investment in green jobs is sustainable. A good example is the natural gas market. Currently, there is a global supply glut. As a result, gas is a very cheap source of energy. Can clean tech compete?
The Mahoning Valley already has a substantial stake in the development of cheap natural gas, as represented by the proposed $1 billion expansion of V&M Star in Youngstown. That, too, is a big bet. You might see that as a good thing. The region is diversifying its economic portfolio within the energy sector. Looking at Pittsburgh, that strikes me as a good idea.