October 1, 2022
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White paper: The Green Coast Innovation Zone

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Last spring, the Business Times called on regional leaders to reinvent the tri-county economy using new energy technology, energy efficiency and greener building practices as a springboard to growth.

We called the initiative the Green Coast and I’m pleased to report that a diverse working group has been formed under the title of the Green Coast Alliance. We have produced a white paper for the creation of a Green Coast Innovation Zone. You are welcome to read the document and comment below.

– Henry Dubroff, editor

Green Coast Innovation Zone: A Tri–County Collaboration

• The Green Coast Innovation Zone (GCiZ) will facilitate our transformation to a more sustainable economy and environment through targeted economic and workforce development opportunities in Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties. The three counties are contiguous and have common geographic, demographic and economic profiles including similar industry sectors. Each county has at least one major university and a military installation where research and product development can occur.

The GCiZ is a regional strategy to leverage public and private assets and natural resources to stimulate innovation and entrepreneurship through research, business incubation, focused workforce development, targeted economic development and policy development. The GCiZ will focus on the emerging green economy including, renewable energy, and other technologies that promote sustainability as well as public engagement in the process of “going green.”

• Why Green Coast? Leaders in Washington, Sacramento, in top industries and across nearly every discipline share the view that rising energy costs, concerns for energy independence and national security, as well as advocacy for cleaner technologies, are all contributing to a rapid and long-term expansion of business development for products and services leading to energy efficiency. The scale of growth is enormous, as we are encountering more than a new industry, rather, as summarized in a recent report by the California Economic Strategy Panel, we are witnessing “a transformation of the entire economy” (Clean Technology and the Green Economy: Growing Products, Services, Businesses and Jobs in California’s Value Network, www.labor.ca.gov/panel).

Though currently concentrated in manufacturing and construction, green products and services present opportunities across numerous industry sectors and occupations of interest to GCiZ:

• Solar technologies • Wind technologies • Energy efficient vehicles & transportation • Fuel cells & batteries
• Energy storage & distribution, smart grid • Bio-fuels technologies • Energy efficient logistics & goods movement • Green building & construction • Advanced manufacturing & materials development • Agriculture technologies & efficiencies • Technologies in energy efficient chip design • Water & wastewater management
• Green technologies for military applications • Desalinization • Nano technology related to energy efficiency • Recycling & waste management • Energy technologies for disaster preparedness • “Green” policy development

• Organization: The GCiZ will be led by a Steering Committee comprised of three (3) representatives from each County. This Steering Committee will oversee the organizational structure and facilitate dialogue, planning and collaboration of a wide range of stakeholders in the following areas:

Innovation and Entrepreneurship: to leverage existing educational, business and government resources to stimulate research and technology transfer in green technologies.

Workforce Development and Financing: to focus economic and workforce development efforts, in conjunction with educational and business partners, develop programs to build the necessary workforce as well as develop and coordinate a wide range of financing opportunities.

Public Outreach and Education: to leverage collective resources to attract and stimulate innovation, entrepreneurs and investors as well as educate the public. Other functions could include: serving as the entry point into the GCiZ by providing a clearinghouse of information, resources and referral for businesses, inventors, investors and the public, facilitating public/media relations as well as promoting best practices in the experiences of the GCiZ.

Public Policy: to serve as an advocate to overcome legislative and regulatory issues related to bringing new technologies to market and create legislative analysis and reports based on the experiences of the GCiZ.
Extraordinary Regional Assets: The Green Coast region is already enriched by extraordinary assets in these areas listed above. As reported in the Business Times on Feb. 27, 2009,

Already in San Luis Obispo, county plans are afoot for hundreds of megawatts of solar power, and it hosts REC, a large solar energy company. Santa Barbara County plans a wind farm near Lompoc, it hosts Clipper Windpower and its University of California scientists are at the leading edge of energy-efficient lighting and environmental management. And Santa Barbara Mayor Marty Blum is playing a leading role in sustainability on a national stage. Ventura County has one of the largest privately owned solar fields, is a major producer of solar panels and boasts an energy alliance that has been an advocate for the more efficient use of power.

This list could go on far longer, with new developments throughout the Tri-Counties reported weekly. And while this is only a small display of our Green Coast innovations, it demonstrates the depth and breadth of our existing activity and leadership, in policy, research and industry. Our current activities differentiate us from our competition for economic leadership and establish our credibility for proclaiming the Green Coast Innovation Zone as a vision to drive our economic vitality.

Real & Attainable Goals: It will not be enough to rest on what’s already in place. Our goals for the future must surpass the Tri-Counties’ current achievements. It is essential that by organizing Green Coast we use that leadership to achieve genuine and long-lasting gains for the region’s economy.

Core objectives served by organizing the Green Coast Innovation Zone are to:

1) improve market share and growth for Tri-County based businesses;

2) increase the number of the region’s businesses successfully participating in the green economy;

3) promote job growth and improve educational and employment opportunities for the Green Coast workforce; and

4) improve regional environmental quality and preserve and sustain our region’s extraordinary quality of life.

 

– Feel free to comment below with your thoughts and suggestions related to the Green Coast Innovation Zone.

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