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Green Economic Development

Solutions Journalism Network

Increasingly, cities and states are aligning their economic and job development and greening strategies. Historically, low-income and minority communities have suffered the most at the hands of targeted environmental injustices. The rapid growth of the renewable energy sector and increasing local focus on green infrastructure presents an important opportunity to actively involve residents in the sustainability decisions and efforts that impact their neighborhoods and ensure that they will reap the economic and health benefits that result: "With all the billions of dollars that are going out [into the economy] with solar, there’s a need to reach people who are most disenfranchised with these work opportunities,” Brad Boston, a solar contractor in D.C., said.

Across the United States, states are developing solar power for their low-income communities with the dual goal of reducing living costs and emissions. The growing movement has also resulted in new related employment and job training opportunities for residents. In Florida, the City of Tallahassee is engaging young adults who are out of school and work to help with local climate adaptation projects. In addition to the ecological benefits, the city believes this program is one way to reduce violence. New Jersey's Camden County Municipal Utilities Authority is preparing residents for longer-term positions working on green infrastructure. One Oregon neighborhood, aware of the potential of environmental improvements and amenities to displace low-income residents, has developed culturally specific green infrastructure strategies and launched a job training program for the neighborhood's long-time residents.