Following his recent trip to the nation’s capital to advocate for California’s share of the stimulus package, San Jose mayor Chuck Reed headed back to Washington D.C. this week to promote his own city.
The mayor intends to present to the new administration his proposals for the city, many of which have similar goals to that of the president.
One of these common objectives is the creation of a green workforce.
Under the Workforce Development project, the mayor is sitting down with employers in transportation, construction and energy to ask what types of jobs they will be hiring for in the next five years and what types of skills will make a worker marketable for these positions. He is then taking this information to universities, apprentice programs and job training facilities in the hopes that workers can be re-trained with new skills, especially for jobs in the green industry.
Like the president, Mayor Reed is making the creation of green collar jobs – like retrofitting buildings with solar panels or weather-proofing them for energy efficiency—a priority. Funding, however, will be required to retrain workers in this relatively new industry.
“California in general is further along in terms of green workforce. We’ve been thinking about this longer than most states,” Jeff Janssen, the mayor’s senior policy adviser, said. “With some seed money we can launch programs relatively quickly that you can hold up as models to the rest of the country.”
In his 2007 Green Vision proposal, the mayor already laid out a goal of employing 25,000 people in clean tech jobs in fifteen years. The creation of this green industry will also help San Jose meet a number of the mayor’s other Green Vision goals, including a 50 percent reduction of per capita energy use and the creation or retro-fitting of 50 million square feet of green buildings.
Also among the projects the mayor is taking to Washington are two mass transit proposals.
The first is the creation of an automated people mover at the San Jose Airport. Instead of a proposed underground path to connect BART to the airport – which would require tunneling – the people mover would transport passengers from the street to the airport above ground, thus reducing by one-third the estimated BART costs of $600 million, according to Janssen. This type of people mover is already being built in London’s Heathrow.
The other transportation proposal is an expansion of the San Jose rail station. Besides the trains already running into the station, including the light rail and soon BART, the proposed high speed rail line connecting northern and southern California will also be running through San Jose. Janssen says the station will be similar to New York City’s Grand Central Station, though currently, San Jose’s station does not have the capacity for all those trains.
The mayor left Sunday and will be in Washington for a week meeting with officials from the Department of Energy and the Federal Transit Administration, among others.
Earlier last month, Mayor Reed went to the nation’s capital with the mayors of Los Angeles, San Diego and Sacramento to advocate for California’s share of the $787 billion stimulus package. The collaborative effort was meant to show the importance of California’s economy to the greater well being of the nation. The mayor also met with the leaders of other big cities, like Michael Bloomberg of New York City, to make sure that large urban areas were getting fair attention in the stimulus package as well.