Experts say ‘green’ economy won’t save New England

By Alex Kuffner
The Providence Sunday Journal
November 15, 2009

BOSTON — Green technology may help drive an economic recovery in New England but the fledgling industry will not be a major engine of growth for the region in the foreseeable future, economists said at a recent conference.

The sobering assessment came during the New England Economic Partnership’s fall conference, which was held last week in Boston and focused on so-called “green-collar jobs” and whether their creation will help pull Rhode Island and its neighbors out of recession.

President Obama has pushed renewable power, energy efficiency and the like as potential growth industries for the country. His administration has steered billions of dollars in stimulus funds to the creation of jobs in green businesses. Likewise, in Rhode Island, Governor Carcieri has thrown support behind two offshore wind farms, touting their potential to bring high-paying jobs to the state in the manufacturing, assembly and installation of wind turbines.

Speakers at the conference last Tuesday, however, said that although the sector will generate jobs, it could take years before it has a large impact on the economy as a whole.

“I think the green economy is part and should be part of an economic recovery, but it can’t be counted on as the single source of growth,” said NEEP vice president Ross Gittell, the James R. Carter Professor at the University of New Hampshire’s Whittemore School of Business and Economics.

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