Connecting entrepreneurialism to a clean energy stimulus grid
By: Mary Lydon and Tony Pauker
In times like these job loss is a major concern. However the pink slip can catalyze creative impulses. Steve Williams of SENTRE Partners, a successful real estate investment and services firm, used his pink slip in the early 1990s to start his own business and now is inspiring others to follow his lead. San Diego has a great history of entrepreneurialism and currently leads in industry sectors for biotechnology, communications and software development.
It may be trite to say, but these are actually the times of great opportunity — if we can look beyond the crisis immediately at hand. Hopefully, we’re starting to emerge from the shocking initiation of the end of the old and will poise ourselves for the new. Since San Diego has entrepreneurialism running through its veins, we are uniquely positioned to take advantage of the new economy we are being called to create. We certainly do have a track record of this. The downturn of the early 1990s and “peace dividend” yielded a huge proliferation of new technology companies in our region.
Policy and economic stimulus alone will not lead us out of our troubled economic waters. We again need innovation and the ability to move quickly, the core of entrepreneurialism, to move us back to sustainability and prosperity.
At a recent gathering of the Center for American Progress, former President Bill Clinton, former Vice President Al Gore, Lee Scott of Wal-Mart, Carl Pope of Sierra Club, Robert Kennedy and other big thinkers, rolled out an action plan call Wired for Progress, which is a vision that if executed properly, can create many new jobs and put us in control of our own sustainable energy supply. The Center for American Progress is a think tank dedicated to improving the lives of Americans through ideas and action inspired by the likes of Teddy Roosevelt, FDR, JFK and Martin Luther King.
The Wired for Progress Action Plan calls for a national clean-energy smart grid that has an interstate sustainable transmission grid to transport clean utility-scale renewable energy long distances to market and a digital smart distribution grid to deliver this electricity efficiently to local consumers. The absence of a national grid that seamlessly integrates these two components is one of the biggest impediments to large-scale deployment of low-carbon electricity. No matter on how you may personally feel about this, it s clear that energy is the growth industry of the next decade. With our universities and the creative class infrastructure we have, San Diego should be a leader, not a follower, in this direction.
We will need scores of scientists, planners, engineers, planners, economic analysts, developers, software developers, workforce training to build and maintain grid, investors, land brokers, architects and more.
San Diego should create a coalition to prepare to take advantage of this emerging clean energy grid initiative. We saw how quickly we were able to pull together as a region to develop the “ready to go” infrastructure project list. But there is a greater advantage for San Diego to participate in the clean energy stimulus grid. It creates sustainable, high-paying jobs that last well into the future. This opportunity was created for San Diego’s unique skill set.