OROVILLE — A state jobs official visited Oroville Tuesday to announce a $3.5 million grant that will help develop green jobs in the north state.
Victoria Bradshaw, secretary of the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency, announced the award to Northern Rural Training and Employment Consortium.
"This is business-led, and it will put people back to work in the short-term," Bradshaw said, as well as putting programs into place for long-term job research and growth.
The announcement took place at Oroville's CleanTech Innovation Center, which Bradshaw commended as a "phenomenal effort by a community ..." and a potential job-creation site.
Covering 11 counties, a team of 42 businesses, agencies, educational institutions, economic development professionals and others participated in the grant application for the north state.
"It's important that it's business-led because it's businesses that create the jobs," she said. "Clean tech is California's next wave of innovation," noting green job growth occurred even during the state's economic recession.
Bringing together government, educational and work force officials and private businesses, NoRTEC created a multi-dimension project that was among six grants awarded for green-job creation.
Covering a two-year period, the grant aims to put more than 350 people to work in an 11-county north state region, create commercial use for new technologies, launch new tech startup companies, and aid business expansions.
Individuals targeted for the jobs are those called displaced workers, who have lost their jobs because of the economy, as well as low-income individuals.
Chico State University will be involved in creating new product ideas with new manufacturing methods, testing and research, with Butte College handling work force training through new courses and programs.
Norm Nielsen of Chico Electric and Brian Smith of FAFCO are among the business partners. They are pursuing power generation and water heating through solar uses. Nielsen chairs the industry advisors to the North State Renewable Energy Consortium.
NoRTEC spokesman Stewart Knox said the grant would lead directly to job growth. Two studies done by the state's Labor Market Information staff and the Center for Economic Development at Chico State pinpointed job-growth industries in renewable energy applications, as well as power generation.
Basic research on technology opportunities would create business for Chico State. Butte College's training programs mean those technologies will be taught to potential workers. And a manufacturing element would allow equipment used in renewable energy companies to be manufactured locally.
Knox noted photovoltaic solar panels used in the area are manufactured elsewhere.
"We're exploring if we can make that happen here."
Within a year, both Chico State and Butte would become test sites for new technology, partnering with the CleanTech Innovation Center in Oroville and the Innovation Center in Chico.
Knox said he imagined actual jobs would be produced in about a year, mentioning there are strict performance goals tied to the grant.
Of 34 grant applications, the five in addition to NoRTEC include applications from San Diego with algae research, training for solar energy jobs out of Santa Clara, alternative fuels and vehicles work linked to San Mateo Community College, water efficiency work in Los Angeles, and energy efficiency work in San Jose.
Staff writer Laura Urseny can be reached at 896-7756 or firstname.lastname@example.org.