Viewing blog posts written by Jack Stewart

Recasting AB 32 as a job creator is political snake oil and breathtakingly naive

Posted by Jack Stewart, on June 16, 2010

CMTA released a new report on Wednesday -- The Truth About Green Jobs and California -- on how policies adopted for the purpose of growing green jobs can have counterproductive affects on the economy and cause overall job loss rather than job growth.  The report was written by the California Lutheran University's Center for Economic Research and Forecasting (CERF) and is co-authored by CERF Director Bill Watkins and Joel Kotkin, Distinguished Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University.

Of late, AB32 is being promoted as a job creation tool rather than a costly environmental regulatory scheme to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.   Recasting AB 32 as an economic development strategy is breathtakingly naive.

California should be the home of clean tech innovation and manufacturing.  For that to happen, our state should focus on creating permanent green jobs, rather than short term jobs that survive only with government subsidies and damage the state's larger economy.  The real solution to solving California's economic woes is to restore a healthy business climate by cutting job killer regulations and allowing the demand for green products to be translated into jobs in California rather than jobs in Texas and China.

Take the time to read through this report to help California get this thing right.

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'Green' countertop manufacturer's inability to compete in CA keeping it from investment cash

Posted by Gino DiCaro, VP, Communications on April 30, 2010

California manufacturers can barely compete domestically and globally.  This goes for our 'greenest' producers as well.  This was underscored today in a San Francisco Business times article by Lindsay Riddell.

Riddell explained a developing story on Richmond-based Vetrazzo -- a manufacturer that makes sustainable countertops from recycled glass.

It looks like the 22-employee Vetrazzo would like to grow in California but investors won't pony up the $2 million cash unless they move to where they can compete. 

Click here for her story.

Vetrazzo website.

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States starting to eat CA's cleantech lunch

Posted by Gino DiCaro, VP, Communications on Aug. 14, 2009

Joel Makower, founder of cleantech research and publishing firm Clean Edge, recently remarked that other states are "starting to eat California's lunch" when it comes to attracting and retaining clean technology companies.  This point was called out on page 25 of the CALSTART Industry report on the state's barriers and opportunities for economic and environmental leadership. 

In the same report, venture investor, Vinod Khosla warned that high costs and slow permitting processes were threatening to drive many advanced biofuels companies out of California.

In another study recently released, the Milken institute took a look at high tech manufacturing growth.  Of course many of the cleantech industries come out of this particular sector.  The results were stunning when it came to California's major competitor, Texas.  Their high tech manufacturing as a percentage of GSP grew by 86 percent in 7 years.  California's grew by only 7 percent. 

Meanwhile many leaders and policymakers either ignore the impediments to growth and some even say their is no reason for concern. If that continues, we deserve to go lunchless.

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Hurry-up, California: Fix all of our problems with green directives

Posted by Gino DiCaro, VP, Communications on April 14, 2009

I recently watched an employer focus group unfold.  An executive was asked, "Is there anything positive about conducting business in California?"  The employer replied, "Yeah, investment barriers to new competitors in California."  Another respondent replied without hesitating, "There is no way we would invest anything more in California."

These realities play out in so many ways -- notwithstanding California's tremendous quality of life advantages -- while so many unfounded and rushed policy directions tip economy-altering board room decisions against our working families.

We live in a state that is pressing greenhouse gas emissions standards with no understanding of costs to business and consumers.  We are constantly barraged with messages about hurrying our state's clean tech efforts, as if our existing efficiencies count for nothing and our competitive position is irrelevant.  We ignore studies like a Berkeley report on biofuel carbon footprints that argues a larger carbon leave-behind than fossil fuels -- an example that underscores the spectrum of the unknown in these arenas.   There is so much to learn about how new alternative fuels, energy and processes affect our costs and the environment.

We get it though, California, we get it.  Hurry up, right?

Many policymakers and issues leaders at the forefront of green policies don't understand that manufacturers and other employers want the state, along with their own businesses, to succeed.   But we also live in the realities of competition.  We don't just set up markets and watch them run.  As an example, and on a much grander scale, take Russia and China after ending communism.  Did they become 3 billion new customers or competitors?  This brilliant Reuters article explains why it was more of the latter.  Basically competitive position counts more than anything and these positions are tighter than ever .... everywhere.
Countless California Capitol discussions these days include a virtual fly-by of emerging green products and technologies as the primary savior for the state's still-growing budget and jobs calamity as well as our reportedly short environmental time curve.  Both of which perpetuate a hurry-up attitude, much like the one seen in this SF Chronicle article on a recent global warming conference.   Ugh, this is so dangerous and far too easy to pass the buck to policymakers and regulators - who in turn will get re-elected and praised in the short term because they have done their job by simply passing stringent and unaccountable mandates.  We need to start with what we know -- all of us.  And unfortunately there is far too much of that to argue even a hint of economic salvation from most of these blind green mandates.

Put plainly, reality must measure up with our state’s green expediency.

Yesterday, Assembly Republicans announced a fact finding mission led by Assm. Dan Logue to interview companies that chose to operate in Nevada over California (California lost 28 percent of its manufacturing sector since 2001 while Nevada actually gained a small percentage).  They are doing this to understand what our legislature could do to grow not only jobs but high wage jobs in California.  An important move no doubt.

On our end here at CMTA we are working hard with the Milken Institute on a follow-up study to a 2002 Manufacturing Matters report.  Likely titled "Manufacturing STILL Matters", we will release the study in mid-2009 as our collective offering of "What we know" about how a manufacturer survives and succeeds in this great state.    This and our bolstered efforts on our "Why Not California" campaign should be two pieces of many in the state's economic and environmental puzzle.

Another piece is CMTA's July Energy conference which will turn toward growing California's economy with affordable and technologically feasible green products.   Experts will speak to what is working and what isn't.  What we can afford and what we can't.

These and other centerpieces will be important chunks of knowledge for policymakers and the media in California's self-imposed race to the top. 


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Earth Day today, CTE tomorrow

Posted by Gino DiCaro, VP, Communications on April 22, 2008

Yesterday was an Earth Day celebration, but the other 364 days of the year are when the work really gets done.  It's when we invest in the workforce and technologies needed to innovate, manufacture, research, install and maintain the products that will keep the forthcoming Earth Days .... well, green.

Accentuating this point at a press conference in the State Capitol yesterday was the Get REAL coalition, Lieutenant Gov. John Garamendi, Senator Tom Torlakson, Assemblywoman Loni Hancock and Assemblyman Martin Garrick.   The overall plea was for the State to stop bleeding career technical education courses out of our high schools.   Almost 90,000 "green jobs" will be created in California by 2020, CTE enrollment has decreased from 74 percent to 30 percent over the last twenty years, and, all the while, 40 percent of our students are dropping out of high schools before they even get exposed to the contextualized training that could lead to high paying careers in the emerging green sectors and others.

One prime example of what's to come:  For every one megawatt of photovoltaics installed, 20 manufacturing jobs and 13 maintenance jobs are created for one year.  For the 20 percent of our high school students who go on to get four-year degrees before they are 25, this might not matter.  For the 80 percent that don't, it  could represent one of the many promising futures if we just gave them the fundamental training and inspiration they need.

As the State navigates difficult budget times, contemplates revenue enhancements and priorities, seeks to establish itself as the greenest in the Union, and covets new investments, it is crucial that existing and any new resources for schools be considered for career technical education.

Earth Day reminds us of our environmental priorities and accomplishments.   We will have a hard time accomplishing anything if our education system tells students and future workforce that CTE exposure is unavailable, unrequired, unfunded, unvalued and unmeasured.

View press conference video
View press release
View chart showing California's CTE decline

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