Green Insider: 3 Emerging Green Biz Opportunities

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Urban agriculture is an emerging sector in the green economy

The premise for the term “Green Economy” is built on the convergence of two ideas: 1) As a result of the climate change crisis our country needs to step up our efforts towards conservation and sustainability; and 2) Moving forward with the first idea will require a huge, skilled blue and white collar workforce that is diverse.

Green For All is known for creating job opportunities for everyday people to build the green economy, and they also work to create green business and investment opportunities, too.  Green sectors like energy efficiency, renewable energy, green urban manufacturing, and sustainable agriculture are all growing engines of wealth creation.  This week on the Green Insider, Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins shares three of the opportunities in these emerging sectors.

Energy Efficiency in Construction
Innovative financing models and major public investment are fueling an explosion in the energy-efficiency market.  What’s more, some of that public investment is going to train entrepreneurs and workers with the skills they need to take advantage of this opportunity.

Many local programs, also pay special attention to opening these opportunities to historically disadvantaged businesses, like those owned by people of color or women. Take for example Clean Energy Works Portland, in Portland, Oregon. “The results have been impressive,” says Ellis-Lamkins. “Preliminary data show that 44% of the total work hours to date have been performed by historically underrepresented people (e.g., people of color, women), and well over 20% of total program dollars to date have gone to minority- or women-owned contractors (including sub-contractors).”

Urban Agriculture
“It is becoming increasingly difficult to find fresh, locally grown produce in America’s cities,” says Ellis-Lamkins. “Residents in low-income communities are more likely to buy their ‘groceries’ at bodegas or eat fast food; the health implications are obvious.”  In addition, Ellis-Lamkins says the food they buy is likely to have been shipped in from thousands of miles away, which drives up transportation costs and produces CO2 emissions that further contribute to climate change and global warming.

Locally produced food is healthier and better for our environment.  With minimal investment, education, and training, urban farmers, who cultivate, process, and distribute food within city limits, can create wealth and jobs while helping cities increase food supply, security, and quality.  Hundreds of urban farms have sprouted up across the country employing a wide range of business models and practices — a growing number of which are making a profit.

Not including the cost of land, an entrepreneur can get the basic equipment needed to start an urban agriculture business for $10,000, according to Ellis-Lamkins. Many cities, including Detroit, Cleveland, Brooklyn, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Newark, to name a few — are actively working to make it easier for urban farmers to find usable land.

Green Urban Manufacturing
Both entrepreneurs and investors can find opportunities in the growing green urban manufacturing sector.  Green technologies are emerging, opening the space for new businesses to gain an early foothold.   Formerly vibrant industrial towns like Detroit are looking at green manufacturing as a vehicle to revitalize their cities and address staggering unemployment rates by putting men and women back to work with high paying jobs. American businesses can become early leaders in manufacturing parts for harnessing wind and solar energy.

“By taking advantage of emerging policy and market opportunities in America’s industrial cities, entrepreneurs and investors can turn a profit, help the environment, and create high-quality jobs for American workers,” says Ellis-Lamkins.

For more information about the “Green Economy” read:

Reflections on the Way to the Climate Change Summit

Grabbing African Americans by the Green Collar

Energy Experts to Blacks: Think Green

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