By Jami Miedema

The cleantech industry, which includes goods and services that reduce costs but are environmentally friendly, is growing at a rapid pace. Not too long ago, many green technologies were too costly to use and too complex to mass produce. Due to governmental backing of green initiatives through legislation such as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, federal loans, and tax credits, clean technologies have gained the support they need to become viable opportunities.

According to an article in Area Development magazine, The Promise of the U.S. Cleantech Industry, clean manufacturing jobs are scattered throughout the U.S. and found in cities of all sizes. The article ranked the top 15 metro areas with cleantech jobs, with progressive MSAs such as San Francisco and Boston placing first and fourth, respectively. But surprisingly, Detroit and other heavy industrial manufacturing cities were among the same list. These findings show promise that almost any area, regardless of size or historical industry clusters, can take part in the new green economy. So how can areas attract clean manufacturers to their region?

Several location factors need to be considered. Taken from the same article mentioned above, the figure below shows some of the location factors for solar, wind, and battery manufacturers.

Similar to any industry, proximity to customers, logistics, and labor costs play a role in the relocation of green manufacturers. However, for sectors such as solar, wind, and advanced battery manufacturing, the cost of power, availability of skilled labor, and business climate are even more critical when making a relocation or expansion decision. To attract clean manufacturers, it’s important for areas to possess these advantages in addition to offering substantial incentives.

Case Study: One state that has done an amazing job of attracting and growing clean energy firms is Oregon. Visit Business Oregon’s website to view an interactive map of success stories and learn more about their competitive advantages and incentives for the cleantech industry.

Source: Babinet, O., Gellman, D. (2010, Apr/May). The promise of the U.S. cleantech industry. Area Development Magazine, pp 24-30.