CHANGE Advisory Board Member Peter Torrellas recently helped the Mayor of Memphis, TN unveil a new, forward-thinking environmental program designed to slash the city’s energy costs while creating new jobs to bolster the local economy. Mr. Torrellas suggested that the Memphis Clean and Green program could become a global model for similar efforts and described Mayor Wharton’s vision “groundbreaking.”
The Clean and Green program combines an eco-friendly energy savings program with a jobs creation and training program to help put displaced workers back to work. A local newspaper, the Memphis Flyer, quoted Mayor Wharton as saying, “The best antipoverty program is a jobs program” and suggested that the Clean and Green program is the first phase of the Mayor’s overall economic development plan called Blueprint for Prosperity. According to the Memphis Flyer, Mayor Wharton indicated that the Clean and Green program is just the first step in his administration’s efforts to put people back to work in Memphis and that his administration will “lead the way in closing the income gap that the Pope and President have spoken about.”
The Clean and Green program launched with $200,000 in seed money. It is expected to fund itself on an ongoing basis through the annual cost savings achieved by recycling more trash, converting some city vehicles to run on compressed natural gas and installing solar panels on several city buildings in addition to installing new lighting, heating, cooling and upgrading the electrical systems in many city-owned buildings.
The City of Memphis estimates it will reduce energy consumption by approximately 20 percent each year due to the increased efficiency allowing it spend about $8 million less every year on energy costs. That will allow the city to reallocate and reinvest roughly $8 million each year to create jobs, train workers for those jobs and modernize the city’s infrastructure. Modernizing the city’s infrastructure and getting people back to work will help the city to draw in more industries, create more jobs and grow tax revenue over the long term.
Visit http://www.memphisflyer.com/memphis/clean-and-green/Content?oid=3571487 to read the full article published in the Memphis Flyer on December 19, 2013.