From left: St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, Blue Green Alliance Executive Director David Foster, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, Honeywell President/CEO Roger Fradin, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, Congressman Keith Ellison and other members of the roundtable. (Photo by J. Lee)
By J. Lee
MINNEAPOLIS (Jan 28, 2010) – In his first official visit to Minnesota, U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner headed a roundtable of local business, labor and elected officials on the topic of creating “Green jobs.” The event was hosted by Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak’s Green Manufacturing Initiative and Honeywell International in Golden Valley.
“The Administration will expand the Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit by $5 billion,” said Geithner, adding that the program provides a 30 percent tax credit for investments in factories that make the products to power the clean energy economy.
He said the goal is also to “assure that America leads the world in making the products needed to reduce greenhouse gases.” Of the $5 billion, there were no details on what portion might be Honeywell products produced in Minnesota.
Honeywell reported that it is a leader in energy efficiency with more than 50 percent of its products dedicated to technologies and services that reduce energy use and emissions. With 110,000 employees worldwide with 4,000 in Minnesota, Honeywell said its global businesses are in building solutions, environmental and combustion controls, process solutions, life safety, security, scanning, and sensing/control.
The Honeywell report claimed that of 5,000 global energy efficient projects since the 1980s, it expects a savings of $5 billion in energy and operational savings from products now in 150 million homes, 10 million buildings, planes, trains and automobiles worldwide.
At Congresswoman Maxine Waters’ Congressional hearing January 23, 2010, Minneapolis Public Housing Authority Executive Director Cora McCorvey spoke of Honeywell products used in retrofitting their public housing and that the return on investment is 20 years.
A closed roundtable discussions also covered how investments in clean energy and energy efficiency can create green manufacturing jobs in Minnesota and other states. Honeywell reported National Association of Energy Services Companies claim a $10 million “green” retrofit project can create 95 high-paying jobs.
Blue Green Alliance Executive Director David Foster spoke of 200,000 jobs being created but with no details on what portion would be Minnesota jobs. Another representative said Lois Smith of Smith Partners “represented the people”, but had no information on how that was determined.
“We hope Congress will move quickly to pass a jobs bill including credit and tax cuts for small businesses; investments in innovation including clean energy technology; investments in road, bridge, rail and port projects; and policies to spur more exports of American manufactured products,” said Secretary Geithner.
Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman said that funds received have not been earmarked for specific entities, and they would announce when funds are available.
“I’m very excited about the potential of the work that we’re doing to promote greater economic and our environmental sustainability in Minneapolis,” said Rybak, offering examples of what the city is doing to attract and support small business.
He and St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman started three years ago on a Blue Green Alliance partnership to build capacity and demand for family-supporting jobs in green manufacturing. The Minneapolis Convention Center now has the largest solar array in the upper Midwest, and the city is now converting some vehicles to electric. He is requesting millions more in grant funding to help reduce energy consumption of all buildings by 50 percent in 10 years.
The backbone to the programs, however, is with training the workforce of the future, said Rybak, partially crediting federal grant funding for Pathways out of Poverty.
“This will allow us to train unemployed, disadvantaged and previously hard-to-employ workers in green manufacturing and clean-energy jobs – which will help them get out of poverty, build wealth for their families and enter the middle class,” he added.
Businesses leaders met with Secretary Geithner for lunch included executives from Cargill, Cuisine Concepts, General Mills, Hemisphere Restaurant Properties, Honeywell, Hormel and Land O’Lakes.