Roundtable at GVSU’s Michigan Alternative & Renewable Energy Center Focused on Growing Clean Energy Jobs in Michigan, Making America Competitive in 21st Century Economy
MUSKEGON, MI (June 29, 2011) Growing the 21st century clean energy economy in Michigan was the topic of a roundtable discussion at the Grand Valley State University’s Michigan Alternative & Renewable Energy Center (MAREC) on Tuesday night. Former Michigan Congressman Mark Schauer joined representatives of the Sierra Club, West Michigan Jobs Group, Michigan Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA), and MAREC, along with local labor and environmental leaders, to discuss how to create a real jobs plan that works for Michiganders — one that creates good middle-class jobs, reduces pollution and breaks our dependence on foreign oil.
“We are already seeing the positive impact of clean energy production and manufacturing in Michigan, which demonstrates once and for all that we can have both good jobs for Michiganders, while leaving a cleaner environment for future generations,” said Tiffany Hartung, Organizing Representative for the Sierra Club. “Now, we have to get to work to create more good, middle class jobs here in Michigan that will help to make our environment healthier and our economy stronger.”
“When we commit to new energy needs we should do so with the future of our natural resources and Michigan jobs in mind,” said Eric Justian, the President of the West Michigan Jobs Group. “Wind power is one source that holds enormous potential to diversify Michigan’s economy and provide for our energy needs in an environmentally sensitive way, with the resources we have right here.”
MAREC is an economic development initiative of the City of Muskegon, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, and Grand Valley State University. The facility opened in 2003 in response to the growing need for the advancement and development of alternative and renewable energy technology. The facility is a destination point for business and technology development with a focus on the alternative and renewable energy sector. Interests include advancing and developing the use of alternative energy technologies and related applications.
“We’re pleased to host this discussion at our facility and hopeful that people come away with a better understanding of energy-related issues and opportunities for the lakeshore region and all of Michigan,” said Arn Boezaart, the Director of MAREC. “We are committed to establishing Michigan as a leader in the application, development and use of alternative and renewable energy technologies.”
The speakers at the event also focused on the importance of energy efficiency to Michigan — both in homes and businesses.
“There is a great opportunity to create good jobs updating and making our homes, businesses, and public buildings more energy efficient,” said Dan Fingas, Weatherization Marketing Representative from Michigan LIUNA. “We can get skilled construction workers off the bench while saving money by making sure we’re not wasting energy needlessly in buildings. An investment in energy efficiency is also an investment in good jobs, American energy independence and reducing pollution.”
“Thanks to investments like MAREC, we are ready for the jobs of the 21st century in Michigan because we have a great manufacturing infrastructure and highly skilled workers,” said former Congressman Mark Schauer, National Co-Chair of Jobs21!, a campaign coordinated by the BlueGreen Alliance. “Michigan will create jobs in renewable energy, energy efficiency, fuel-efficient vehicles and other high technology areas. This state needs a real jobs plan that we know works — one that will help us keep our current jobs and create new middle-class jobs.”