Can Green-Collar Jobs Save the Economy?

Activists meet in Washington to promote new opportunities

expectations could deter minority and other small business owners from participating. He says that unions will have to understand that these businesses can get there gradually but cannot initially meet their expectations.

But according to Foster, unions are willing to be flexible, particularly when it comes to start-ups. They simply want to ensure that workers are treated fairly.

Being green definitely isn’t cheap, but Foster adds, in the long term, energy efficiency pays for itself because of the resulting cost savings. He also believes that the president is interested in providing tax and other incentives to encourage businesses to enter green industries and implement green policies in their workplaces.

Michael Atkins, executive director of the Southside Neighborhood Resource Center in Syracuse, New York, is hoping green jobs will provide options for the kind of people his group works with–low-income African Americans who currently have few options, including those reentering their communities after incarceration.

“This green movement is very important. We’re teaming up with a company that builds solar panels and looking at installing them. In Syracuse, there’s a lot of wind and sunlight that we can begin to use for home energy and cut the cost of heating bills by 50% to 60%,” says Atkins. “It’s a huge industry and if we don’t introduce it into our communities, we won’t be able to take advantage of this big boom.”

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