Originally published in The News Journal
The national economy has made for some very tough times, particularly for our state’s great manufacturing community.
But given their talent and drive, I know our manufacturers can still say with certainty to companies around the world — “If you can invent it, we can build it“– which is why I spend so much time working to broaden the number of businesses that think of Delaware as a place to build and get things built. Manufacturing jobs have historically given so many Delawareans real economic opportunity for their families. We need to make sure that opportunity is not just our history, but our future.
At the same time, our state has a long history as a cradle for innovation. A place where ideas can become products, products become new companies and companies help shape new industries.
When we have the chance to combine those efforts — when something can be conceived, created and manufactured all within our great state — the economic benefits multiply.
One area with growth potential in both manufacturing and innovation remains clean technology. Around the world, people are getting to work creating and manufacturing products with both environmental and economic benefit. Delaware has key advantages that can help create real economic opportunity for families in our state in this area.
First, we have one of the most skilled workforces in the nation with a density of engineering talent that rivals Silicon Valley and manufacturing know-how that can meet any challenge.
Second, we have one of the most advanced collections of clean tech research programs in the nation at the University of Delaware, important research at Delaware State University and a great training pipeline at Delaware Tech.
Third, we have well-established companies like DuPont and W.L. Gore, and dozens of other smaller firms, all moving rapidly into the renewable energy market with several hundred researchers, manufacturers, developers, and integrators already employed in Delaware.
Fourth, we have rapidly growing consumer demand within the state and tens of millions of potential customers within a few hours drive.
We have taken some important initial steps to support these new jobs. We put in place an executive order that helps our state to lead by example in energy efficiency, recycling, and renewable energy opportunities. We also gathered partners from across the state to conduct an energy auction that increased our use of renewable energy while saving taxpayers more than $13 million.
Our Clean Energy Jobs Act and Energy Conservation and Efficiency Acts produce cost savings, environmental benefits and economic opportunity. They will encourage energy efficiency improvements for thousands of homes and buildings and the installation of hundreds of megawatts of solar, offshore wind, and fuel cell projects. Equally important to the environmental benefits, these efforts should result in the creation of thousands of secure, quality jobs in development, manufacturing, deployment and operations.
The University of Delaware, The News Journal and the Delaware Public Policy Institute recently hosted another installment in a series on “Creating Knowledge Based Partnerships.” Called “Creating a Clean Energy Economy,” the two-day forum brought together industry, academics, entrepreneurs and community leaders from around the country to help turn this industry’s possibilities into greater economic reality.
The goal is to look for ways to move forward together growing new and existing businesses, creating well-paying jobs, improving our environment, and reduce our dependence on foreign oil.
To revitalize the American economy, we need to get people building things that can be proudly stamped “Made in America, Manufactured in Delaware,” and clean technology can be part of that solution.