“Weatherization, for example, is a nat-ural t for minority communities andLatinos who make up a large part of theconstruction trade to become informed,”she continues. “e challenge is to besure that we’re really opening opportuni-ties to everyone and making trainingavailable to all.”But Quintero is also quick to note thatthis change is not going to last long. “If you look at the tech wave, minority com-munities were not a part of that. ey came in too late to be in the forefront.But if we get the information out therenow, we can help them lead the way.”Roger Rivera is president and founderof the National Hispanic EnvironmentalCouncil (NHEC), and chair of the Na-tional Latino Commission on ClimateChange (NLCCC). “What is the eco-nomic message of the green economy? Itputs money in your pocket,” says Rivera.He is committed to bridging the gap be-tween opportunity and communities of color. “People of color are still horribly under-represented at every environmentalagency. Not only in the work force, butparticipation in education programs. With regard to minority business oppor-tunities, participation is dismal—thatneeds to change.”In an eort to catalyze that change,NHEC has created the Minority YouthEnvironmental Training Institute totrain the next generation with several en-vironmental education programs. Since2002, NHEC has trained over 1,000people of color who have gone from col-lege to work at federal environmentalagencies or green groups.Giving green economic options to un-derserved communities was the basis forthe establishment of Van Jones’ Green for All organization. Jones is the former White House Advisor for Green Jobs andauthor of the New York Times best seller
Te Green Collar Economy
. e organiza-tion works to build an inclusive greeneconomy strong enough to lift people outof poverty. Today, Green for All is led by Phaedra Ellis-Lampkin. “Green jobs pro-vide a career path. ey support a living wage and sustain a healthy economy,”says Ellis-Lampkin. “ey also provideopportunities for new businesses for in-novators. We realize that people of colorneed to be able to innovate.”Stephanie Owens agrees that commu-nities of color are under-engaged. Owensis the EPA’s Director of Public Engage-ment and says her department is commit-ted to expanding the conversation toinclude all stakeholders in the future of the economy. “We are proud of an ad-ministration that is using the recovery todrive the future of energy technology,”says Owens. “Everyone isn’t in this greenspace. Even if they are, they are only in aportion of it. is is a great space for en-trepreneurs to ll. People who jump inearly and condently are the ones whocan take advantage of it.”
Green = Green
is should be a wake-up call for en-trepreneurs as well as job seekers.Predictions and forecasts from globaleconomists, industry experts, and futur-ists agree that the green economy has thepotential to create tens of thousands of jobs, outperforming the dot-com bubble.e dierence this time around may be amore level playing eld for prosperity.Government and private and public com-panies are putting in the money. Greenmanufacturing and green productivity are at the forefront. Jerome Ringo isbanking on it. e former president of Apollo Alliance is currently a senior ex-ecutive of Green Port Biofuels, a climate-solutions company. He recommends, “If I’m looking for a new business to go into,I’m going green.”e U.S. Department of Energy isalso making signicant investments withmore than $8 billion for weatherizationprojects in local communities. is work involves installing new energy-ecient windows and doors, updating insulation,and encouraging state and local govern-ments to use more fuel-ecient vehiclesand renewable forms of energy. Incen-tives for switching to clean energy appli-ances and solutions come in the form of tax credits and rebates, helping to stimu-late market demand. A new idea doesn’t require an MBA,Ph.D., Esq., or J.D. International styledoyenne Audrey Smaltz says you justneed an IKWIK—“I know what I know.”Turning what you know into a green en-terprise is priceless. Ringo tells a story of meeting such a “guts and instincts” en-trepreneur who had two old pickuptrucks he had parked in his backyard. Herebuilt them and noticed that the city came around once a week to clearbranches from his street. e man toldthe city, “Let me pick them up—nocharge.” He found an abandoned ware-house, rented a grinding machine, andbegan selling the bags of mulch back tothe city to use them for landscaping. Hestarted a green business from nothing.Now he recycles all types of materialsand sells them back to market. “He wentgreen and now he’s rich,” says Ringo. A green jobs-creation story can befound in Joseph Ramirez. He is the own-er of Viento Solutions, which specializesin engineering and manufacturing windturbines. He plans to have several dier-ent units that will be produced in NorthCarolina, and government stimulusfunds will be used for engineering, oper-ations, and job creation. Ramirez expectsto create 850 jobs “with good salaries.” As a U.S.-based supplier, his company has a competitive edge over China, a po-tential competitor. As the world’s second-largest energy consumer, China seeks toreduce its dependence on fossil fuels by investing in wind power. “We can pro-vide a responsive production line, fastturnaround, and tech support right herein the U.S.,” says Ramirez. As this space matures and becomesmore a part of our lifestyle and culture,opportunities for businesses and jobs willmultiply and become more pervasiveacross industries and within our econo-my. is has created an opportunity fornot only recovery but reinvention. AndPresident Obama has backed it with fullgovernment support.
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“PEOPLE OF COLOR are still horriblyunder-represented at everyenvironmental agency. Not onlyin the work force, but participationin education programs. With regardto minority business opportunities,participation is dismal—that needsto change.”