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Green dollars bolster our sagging economy

By   /   Monday, October 5th, 2009  /   Comments Off on Green dollars bolster our sagging economy

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Green is not exactly the new black.

But federal stimulus grants are offsetting some of the serious shortfalls in the tri-county economy.

For example, University of California, Santa Barbara, officials announced late in September they will receive a total of $36 million in stimulus money — mainly for research into energy efficiency and alternative energy products and processes. That’s nearly double the initial $19.5 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act money that had previously been received by UCSB’s Institute for Energy Efficiency.

Meanwhile, the Port of Hueneme has received more than $2 million from the Department of Homeland Security to beef up a number of processes and procedures to improve security at the port, part of an allocation being shared by commercial centers across the nation.

As widely reported earlier, USCB and other regional public universities are struggling under a hefty load of budget cuts and employee furloughs.

The Port of Hueneme has also seen imports of autos fall off a cliff amid the meltdown in automobile sales.

Federal grants for research can’t restore all of the furlough days for rank-and-file workers at Isla Vista. The port’s security grants can’t restore the flow of ship traffic and vehicles to its storage areas and into the broader economy.

But over the longer haul, these investments will pay bigger dividends.

As Chancellor Henry Yang pointed out at a press conference to announce the new total, the UCSB grants hold the promise of creating new technologies that can be spun off as new companies for the Central Coast.

Improvements to security at the port should lead to productivity enhancements that can make the region’s chief international gateway more competitive and more attractive to importers and exporters.

With California struggling to find a bottom, every little bit helps.

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