After a wildly successful Sustainability Summit organized largely by Indiana County Office of Planning and Development, and the League of Women Voters last month, the County Commissioners have responded to our requests for an institutional commitment to a new economy by establishing a Sustainability Task Force.
Why a task force? Jobs! Here’s how Commissioner Sherene Hess laid it out:
“A clean energy revolution is taking place across America, underscored by the steady expansion of the U.S. renewable energy sector,” Hess said. “The clean energy industry generates hundreds of billions in economic activity, and is expected to continue to grow. … There is tremendous economic opportunity for the counties that invent, manufacture and export clean energy technologies. Renewable energy and sustainable agriculture can play an important role in rural economic development.”
We’re so excited that Commissioner Hess is following through on her pledge to put real resources to building a new energy economy. Center member, Tina Purdue lays out what the Task Force will do:
…the task force will identify and promote sustainable economic initiatives that diversify the county’s economic base by attracting businesses and jobs in the renewable energy sector; that reduce costs for government, agriculture, business and private individuals; and that protect and restore the county’s natural resources.
Perdue said that to achieve those goals, the organizers are recommending that the task force develop an action plan with short- and long-term goals in three categories — economic development, education and job training. The goals may include investigating ways to bring jobs in the renewable energy field into the county; identifying the needs of potential employers in the renewable energy field in order to expand or relocate in the county; identifying and supporting green energy entrepreneurs; planning educational programs to build awareness of sustainable energy opportunities for employment; identifying sustainable practices that will work in the county to contain costs and improve the management of natural resources; educating stakeholders in agriculture, business and government about sustainable practices that will cut costs; identifying current job training at local facilities that promote green technology jobs; and proposing partnerships with local educational institutions to train or retrain people for jobs in the renewable energy sector.