Keeping California green

Now this report from the (environmentally friendly legal group) National Resources Defense Council and Environmental Entrepreneurs is noteworthy. It provides hope to some of us who fear economic development may mean mainly bad things for the environment.

Here are some highlights:

1) Venture capital interest in cleantech–environmentally friendly technologies–has surged in the last several years as advances in technologies have lowered costs, bringing many cleantech products into the economic mainstream. As investor and consumer interest in cleantech grows, California stands to benefit because the state�s thriving technology base, abundant business talent, access to capital and proactive environmental policies make it a natural home for new businesses in this industry.

2) Last year, the state received $339 million in Venture Capital cleantech investment, more than any other U.S. state or region and 29 percent of the North American total.

3) If California creates a cleantech industry cluster–much like Silicon Valley is a hi-tech cluster–it could create between 52,000 and 114,000 jobs and attract $11 billion to $25 billion in annual revenue. Most of the jobs would be high-paying, skilled positions.

4) The report�s authors surveyed 25 private equity investors who are active in the cleantech field. The overwhelming majority–91 percent–said that pro-environment public policies can stimulate new business and investment in the state. And 79 percent said that current California public policies (regulations, programs and incentives) are a prominent factor in their investment decisions.

5) The report noted that California is not the only state vying for a piece of the cleantech industry. Connecticut, Massachusetts, Texas, New Mexico, New York, New Jersey, Florida and Pennsylvania are all aggressively pursuing cleantech investors and entrepreneurs. Europe and Japan also are successfully building cleantech clusters. The report says that if California is going to keep its competitive edge, then it will have to develop focused, well-coordinated public policies to continue to grow the sector.

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