The City of Richmond recently received a report "Green is Gold: A Strategy for Developing the Richmond Green Economy," provided through an Economic Development Administration grant. It is intended to inform the City Council, staff and other stake-holders of opportunities and potential strategies for green business development.
The report is timely in this election season when the establishment candidates continue to disparage the mayor’s efforts to develop Richmond’s prospects for green jobs and green businesses, and supporters of establishment candidates routinely characterize the green economy as illusory.
I recommend you read the entire report, but some highlights include:
- Richmond businesses have weathered the recession relatively well. From 2007 to 2010, the city’s overall employment level stayed essentially the same while state employment shrank by 8 percent.
- While Richmond businesses have done relatively well during the recession, jobs in Richmond do not necessarily translate into employment for Richmond residents.
- Richmond has many green economic development strengths that lay the foundation for the current and future green economy.
- Richmond’s biggest weakness for the green economy is the reputation and reality of crime in the city.
- The subset of green businesses that perceive Richmond to be anti-business all have overlap with conventional and often polluting industries.
- SunPrint and one other Richmond green business both complained about the lack of efforts to limit pollution from local industry.
- While the lack of amenities in Richmond was not an explicit theme of business interviews, the implied weakness is clear for much of the city.
- Out of 32 green businesses identified and 20 Richmond green businesses interviewed, 7 businesses … plan to hire new staff in the next several years…
- In addition to existing green businesses, others will likely arrive.
- Green businesses have a very different relationship to government policy than most businesses including much more favorable opinions about government intervention in the economy.