Green Job Expo: At the Intersection of Green Technology & Job Creation

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“Any business that make a commitment to implement sustainable practices and develop environmentally-friendly products are smart companies,” said Courtney Lindberg, Environmental Specialist for the City of Ventura’s Environmental Sustainability Division.

As education and awareness builds worldwide regarding our planet’s compromised natural resources and our society’s individual and collective impact on the environment, many businesses are adopting “green” initiatives to ensure the longevity of their respective businesses as well as the earth’s finite resources.

“It’s good business,” continued Lindberg. “Consumers want to know that when they buy something, that it’s not harming them (or the planet) in the process. When it’s important to the buyer, it becomes important to the supplier.”

This sentiment is also echoed in the 2011 study conducted by MIT, which indicated that 70% of corporate businesses in the United States have adopted environmentally friendly practices, and as a result, have seen an increase in company profitability.

 “California’s Central Coast has been environmentally mindful for years, and we need to continue that critical forward, long-term sustainable thinking,” said California Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson at the recent Third Annual Green Jobs Expo held on June 8, 2013 at the Ventura College Campus. “If we continue to take responsibility for how we impact the planet, it will be good for the economy, good for business, and good for the community.”

Assemblymember Das Williams, a longtime advocate of environmental industry and practices, first got involved with the green jobs expo concept while working as an organizer for CAUSE, a Ventura based non-profit and economic justice advocacy group.

“In 2010, after I got elected to the state Assembly, I wanted to continue to develop and expand the Green Jobs Expo in order to continue to bring together people and businesses with green products, educators that train people in the green job workforce and green technology business owners,” continued Williams, “CAUSE didn’t have the capacity or funds, so I sought out partnerships. This year, through a partnership with the City of Ventura, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Ventura County Community College District, this event has really taken off. ”

“I grew up locally and I see there is still a need for more middle class jobs in this area,” continued Williams. “Green jobs, which are instep with our local values, are the future. It’s also a way for our community to reconcile our economic and environmental needs. The collective work of residents and businesses working together can have a tremendous impact for environmental good – especially in the areas of waste reduction and renewable energy.”

“To put it plainly, Mother Nature won’t continue to take abuse. We have wonderful educational institutions that are generating innovation and technical skills and this is needed in order to grow our economy in a way that is protective of the planet and uses our resources wisely. If we can think outside the box, we’ll be able to do good as well as do well,” said Senator Jackson.

For the event, the CEO of the Ventura Chamber of Commerce, Ed Summers, welcomed the crowd promptly at 10:00am, and was joined by Sharon Dwyer, Program Manager, Ventura County Community College District, Division of Economic Development, City of Ventura Councilmember Brian Brennan, Assemblymember Das Williams and California State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson.

Many businesses in attendance were also actively taking resumes, seeking candidates for internships and paying positions. There were also educational institutions showcasing their programs, green businesses talking about their sustainable products, and interactive workshops on resume writing as well as mock interview sessions to hone job interview skills. Wayne Pendrey, Green Building Construction Instructor, Center for Employment Training, also gave a lecture on the “Status of Solar Today.”

“Our aim is to reach out to a variety of individuals and companies,” said City of Environmental Specialist and Green Task Force Co-Chair Courtney Lindberg. “We are very pleased with the turn out this year,” added Diane de Mailly, President, DDM Metering Systems, Inc., and Green Task Force Co-Chair.

“We’re here,” said Jerry Rios, Center for Employment Training (CET, cetweb.org), “because we’re a technical school that offers a green building construction program.  We want to let the word out about that program, as well as how we successfully connect our students to local employers.”

Steve Brown with GoldCoastTransit.org, a local bus company working in the green industry was accepting resumes at the company booth for a number of upcoming job openings. Other companies also accepting resumes from electrical contractors, solar installers, project managers and office administration support was Colored solar.com, a manufacturer of unique colored solar panels that blend in with the natural architectural environment.

“I heard about the Expo,” said recent college environmental and protection management graduate Scott Doyle, “and I’m here today talking and handing out my resume to different businesses to see what they have to offer.”

Linda and Shawn McCarthy, Executive Directors of Business Network International (BNI), were in attendance to check out “the latest and the greatest.”

“As entrepreneurs, one of our greatest privileges is employing people,” said Ms. McCarthy. “We love our coastline here and we want to keep it green and beautiful.”

“Any way we can do business and preserve our environment is the way to go. We all have to be responsible that way,” added Mr. McCarthy.

“As we realize that everything is connected, and how what we do in one place can impact another,” said Ventura Councilmember Brian Brennan, “The more businesses can embrace sustainability and how they can achieve less of a footprint, they have an opportunity to save money as well as be a respected role model within the community.

A sampling of exhibitors for the Expo included the presenter and sponsor booths, Center for Employment Training, Colored Solar, City of Ventura Environmental Sustainability Division, Eco Buyers, Envifriendly, Gold Cast Transit, IBEW, Ohana Pet Hospital, Melaleuca Wellness Center, Pure Essential Cleaning, Solar City, Surfrider Foundation, UCSB Career Center, United Staffing Associates, Ventura College Water Science, Ventura County Regional Alliance (VCREA), Ventura Water, Verengo Solar and others.

Sponsors for this year’s event included the City of Ventura, Ventura Water, the Ventura Chamber’s Green Task Force, AT&T and Ventura County Community College District.

WATCH the Sustainable Ventura July 2013 Show below featuring a visit to the third annual Green Jobs Expo.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A2F9sdzpqkc]

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-by Maryann Ridini Spencer

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