Major Ohio employers and job creators joined with entrepreneurs from the clean energy sector for a rally and discussion panel as part of the coast-to-coast “Race for American Jobs & Clean Energy Leadership” campaign.
Speakers called for the certainty that strong national legislation can bring.
"Right now, we are facing several tipping points,” said Eric Zimmer, President of Columbus-based Tipping Point Renewable Energy. “It has become clear that the energy landscape is going to change. We face the decision of whether we are going to lead, or lag behind in this new clean energy economy. And it’s not clear what we’re paying for energy. The cost that shows up on your energy bill does not accurately reflect the cost you’re paying — that cost that shows up in health care expenses, and spending on national security. It’s difficult to make the right decision when you don’t have all the information."
Herman Bulls, Chairman of Public Institutions at nationwide real estate manager Jones Lang LaSalle, said, "We need to have the level playing field that federal legislation brings in order to encourage better investments that will reduce our dependence on foreign energy sources, which will have direct effects on our standard of living." JLL has major operations across Ohio.
The “Race” has traveled East across the country, kicking off in Oregon two weeks ago and continuing to Colorado last week, collecting endorsements and bringing together forward-thinking business executives to support strong energy and climate legislation. These businesspeople know that strong policy will create American jobs, promote innovation and technology, and boost energy independence – and with millions of jobs and trillions of dollars at stake in the global race for leadership in the coming clean energy economy, Congress must act now.
Ohio in particular stands to gain much from comprehensive climate and energy policy. According to a recent study by the University of California, Ohio alone could see up to 61,000 new jobs by 2020 as a result of such legislation, with 1.9 million jobs being created nationwide. Furthermore, Ohio’s state economy could grow by up to $3.7 billion more than without legislation, with average household income increasing by $452 – $992 per year.
Sara Letourneau, Regional Program Manager for the business/labor Blue Green Alliance, said Ohio’s workers increasingly realize there’s no turning back.
"As we’re developing this new, clean economy, we need to be deciding what kinds of jobs we want, and what kinds of communities we want,” Letourneau said. “We have a new generation of energy coming, and a new generation of workers to go along with it, and we need to meet the demands of both."
Mark Schuetz, Founder and President of Mt. Vernon-based Replex Plastics, said: "Even for a company of our size, we have to compete on a global level. If we’re not competing globally, someone else will move in their products from somewhere else."
Replex, a traditional Ohio manufacturer, has transitioned much of its work to the development of plastic mirrors used in the solar energy industry. It’s a great example of how a traditional manufacturer — paired in this case with research from Ohio’s world-class universities — can thrive in this new economy.
Participants in the event showed their support for job creation and clean energy innovation by adding their signatures to a custom-made baton that’s being passed between each leg of the Race. The baton will now pass from Ohio to the next stop in Manchester, New Hampshire, on March 9th, and from there will go to Washington DC on March 10th to be “handed off” to Congress and the Obama Administration. The message is that Washington must finish the race, and this final stop will include executives from across the country for a lobbying and advocacy day.
Additional information about the upcoming events will be posted at http://www.wecanlead.org/race/. Video coverage of the previous events in the Race for American Jobs as well as the Ohio event is also available on the website.