PROGRESS: We like green power if it means jobs

SANDUSKY As long as the emerging field of renewable energy brings jobs to Sandusky and the surroundi
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010



As long as the emerging field of renewable energy brings jobs to Sandusky and the surrounding area, the people are all for it.

That was the resounding opinion of those interviewed by theRegister. The transition from blue collar industrial work to building or maintaining wind farms might not be too rocky.

The Ohio Business Development Coalition calls jobs relating to advanced energy generation "green collar" jobs. Those jobs require technical skills very similar to those needed blue collar work.

A recently released report, financed by the Ohio Department of Development, predicted that as many as 174,000 Ohioans could have jobs relating to green energy by 2030.

Marjorie Harper

The possibility of the development, manufacturing and operation of wind turbines sounds great to Harper, assuming they provide new career prospects for local residents.

"We certainly need new jobs. Whatever comes in," said the 74-year-old retiree from Norwalk. "There are a lot of low-paying jobs, but they don't have the benefits."

Pizza delivery, fast-food and retail jobs are in abundance in Erie County and Sandusky, but few jobs are available that offer lifelong stability, she said.

Marie Knudsen

With the decline of automotive manufacturing in the area, there are many skilled laborers out of work in the area, said 48-year-old Norwalk resident Knudsen, who is unemployed. If green energy is the answer for the high unemployment rates, she's sold on the idea.

"Anything to bring jobs in," she said. "We need them bad. I've been looking and looking."

Her fear is that any jobs created by wind farms would go to out-of-state skilled laborers trained in the field. It is her view that it doesn't mean much to the area if newly created jobs go to people from elsewhere.

Jack Walton

But Castalia resident Walton likes the chances of this part of Ohio prospering from green energy investment. The 71-year-old retired automotive manufacturing worker thinks other natural resources are on the way out, and sustainable energy is the future.

"Petroleum's running out and coal's too dirty ... I think we need to get on the industries that promote clean" power, he said.

An alarming number of people leave Sandusky because the job market is so bleak, he said. There are many skilled workers who are hungry for opportunities that aren't there.

Vince Williams

"It's getting slow and anything could help these days," said the 44-year-old, who works for a roof tile manufacturer. "Everybody needs jobs and if it helps folks make an honest living, I'm all for it."

Maria Henry

Henry wants the jobs but not the eyesores. The 41-year-old nursing student doesn't mind wind farms being built as long as they aren't located too close to her home.

Justin Grondin

Eighteen-year-old Grondin thinks green energy investments can't come soon enough.

The Sandusy High School senior said he is attending BGSU Firelands next year and his interest lies in business. Too many of his friends leave the area when they graduate because of the absence of good jobs and he says he'd love to see green energy development give the local economy a shot in the arm.

"I'm going into business and I'd like to see more local business opportunities opening up, especially with the economy right now -- it's a little scary," he said.

The colleges in the area could offer programs to train students to enter into green collar work upon graduation, Grondin said.