by Simone Lightfoot
Every since my 47-year old uncle took the Chrysler buyout three years ago, I have been in his ear – urging he explore the green marketplace for business opportunities and other job options.
His resistance stems from a self-declared lack of experience because he regards his twenty years of manufacturing as a good job, not a green job.
The green industry is so wide open right now that citizens from the broadest ends of the spectrum can take early advantage of entrepreneurship opportunities and growing jobs. Including those with no high school diploma, a felony conviction, single heads of household or a Ph.D. and all those in between.
The time is ripe to consider what each of us can create, convey, deliver, build, run, manage, advocate for or monitor – that has anything remotely to do with energy, the environment, habitat, conservation (using less), sustainability (enough for current and future use) or renewable (a natural resource able to reproduce and replenish via nature over time – like wind, solar and water).
The overwhelming majority of next economy jobs and the skills required are in occupations familiar to our regions workforce.
Areas like manufacturing or public services including agriculture, wastewater, transportation, food access, teaching, enforcement, public policy, financing, roofers, heating and cooling systems.
Plus installers, machinists, sheet metal workers, insulation, ventilation, truck and hi-lo drivers, deconstruction, demolition and construction managers.
A smaller piece of the pie includes newer green energy areas like solar, wind, smart grid efforts and opportunities to protect the Great Lakes.
Other direct or support roles will require knowledge of lithium ion batteries, polycrystalline silicon for solar panel manufacturing, electric vehicles, geothermal, biomass, wind mills, plug-in-hybrids, rapid and mass transit, soil quality and remediation, water efficiency, heat island effects, materials, pollutants, construction waste management, invasive species, aged infrastructure, sewage over flow, plastics, incineration, and clean energy development – to name a few.
Allow your creative entrepreneurial juices to flow. Say for instance you have thought about a child-care business, make it a green child-care business.
The same goes for a hair salon, a painting business, tax services, computer repair service, consulting or even green your next fundraiser.
Remember your skills are transferable. In the mean time, consider being self-taught. Jump in and make new green contacts and build your network. Read anything you can lay your eyes on and check out training opportunities.
Learn the lingo and be determined that both you and your family will not be left behind in the green dust. Visit the National Wildlife Federation’ Great Lakes Regional Center at http://www.nwf.org/Regional- Centers/Great-Lakes.aspx
Simone Lightfoot heads up Regional Urban Initiatives for the National Wildlife Federation Great Lakes Region. She integrates the work of the NWF with the regions urban green efforts. Her territory includes Chicago, IL; Indianapolis and Gary, IN; Milwaukee, WI, Cincinnati, Toledo, Columbus and Cleveland, OH, Detroit, MI and Buffalo, NY. She can be reached at 313.585.1052 or slightfoot2004@ yahoo.com.