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Obama administration could mean green jobs

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Thursday, January 01, 2009

If Barack Obama has his way, the country will invest $15 billion in renewable energy annually over the next decade, putting 1 million plug-in cars on the road and creating 5 million green jobs.

It’s an ambitious plan for sure, but it’s also one that could stimulate Oregon’s business scene more than any other proposal the incoming president has so far laid out.

“Oregon is positioned like no other place in the country to capitalize on that,” says Ryan Deckert, president of the Oregon Business Association. “No one else has planted themselves more strategically to reap the rewards in green jobs and investments.”

Deckert says the state’s early efforts to build green clusters, like solar, coupled with its reputation for green building and mass transit, make it an obvious winner under what’s been called Obama’s “green recovery plan.”

Tim Duy, director of the Oregon Economic Forum, similarly cites the green potential as possibly the biggest impact the Obama administration could have on Oregon businesses.

“It definitely seems like that could be a push of Obama’s that should cut in our favor,” he says.

As for other hints as to how the Obama administration and its policies might play out among Oregon businesses, Duy says infrastructure spending could be huge, especially considering that Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) sits on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. If Obama pushes for that spending as part of an economic stimulus plan, not only will Oregon’s roads, rails, ports, and mass transit systems benefit, but transportation-related businesses will as well, as they have through the three phases of the Oregon Transportation Investment Act.

Deckert says given the current economic and employment conditions, Obama’s plans for health care reform will likely “have to wait,” so businesses here may not see any changes on that right away.  

And as for those Joe-the-Plumber-style tax increases on small businesses? Duy says he’s “done with that story,” and Deckert says he’s not heard any concerns along those lines, especially compared to what he’s hearing about the green potential for the state.

“The tax plan just doesn’t seem like it’s on the same level of significant economic impact,” he says.                                    

JON BELL


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