GOAL Site makes formal Presentation to Mayor's Forum on Jobs

This entry was posted Friday, 11 December, 2009 at 10:16 am

The text of an address presented by The Forest Foundation’s President, Marc Dreyfors, to Mayor Bill Bell’s forum on job creation, a part of the national effort by the White House and the Obama Administration to receive feedback to help form public policy.

“Good evening everyone, Mayor Bell, City staff.

This is exciting to see so many of you and to hear such good ideas. We have everything we need to solve these problems and there is great evidence of leadership in this room by the turnout.

My name in Marc Dreyfors and wear a number of hats, am President of The Forest Foundation, and Manager of several green businesses, Carolina Biodiesel, Greenway Transit and built a biodiesel plant over in east Durham in an old petroleum site. We have employed over 40 at risk youth part-time, training them in green jobs, and feel this has been our contribution to the community. However, I feel we absolutely most change the language of what we are trying to achieve, not promoting jobs for young people but creating incentives for them to stay in school, and get an education that will help them succeed in their careers and become better citizens in our community. Right now attitude is everything, and I see the effect of placing pressure on kids to make money often by parents spoils a sense of wonder, creativity and fun that young people need to have, because life often has the effect of dimming such expressions of youth.

A lot of the ideas I will be presenting are on our website:


I want to recognize the work of OWED in getting the EPA grant for Brownfields Assessments in NE Central Durham. Our site is in the Angier Pettigrew corridor and funding has helped in moving these properties towards redevelopment. The EPA grant also funded Durham Tech.s training program and the use of our site as an incubator and place for hands-on training. This is an enormously successful program and a national model. Expanding this program to include other green jobs is what is needed.

I want to step back a moment and put things in perspective and address this issue of language. What can government do for us? This is the core of what we are asking here tonight. I would say that government can’t do a lot, the Federal government is bankrupt, the City is cutting left and right, and the future looks bleak as we have vilified taxes. Times are tough and likely to get tougher as we have seen with the financial meltdown. The banks aren’t lending, so we must get a reality check on our expectations of what government can do. Don’t expect government funding to be consistent, nor should we be asking the government to subsidize business. This means we have to become more self-sufficient as a community, find systems of keeping money in our community.

We also need to be speaking a common language. The Obama Administration ruled this week that Carbon is an air pollutant, affecting human health and can be regulated without Congress’ approval. This is a game changer, along with what is being decided on in Copenhagen, it is guaranteed that energy will be more expensive. This is regressive, impacting low income, minority communities, as they spend a higher percentage of their income on energy. Thus, we need to be activists to make sure that policies are developed to offset this. We absolutely need more expensive energy. Why? Because of market externalities. The cost of burning fossil fuels is not included in the price of our stuff, thus we over consume energy intensive goods and services that are destroying our environment. This does not bode well for our near future and our children. We absolutely have to change the way our society values things. Additionally, higher prices for energy will drive innovation to develop new sustainable and renewable technologies that will employ millions as they are ramped up. This is critical to our country and communities future.

These ideas of building local economies primarily come from Michael Shuman, who spoke at Duke and was just down at Star, NC at a textile plant revitalization opening, and who wrote the Smallmart Revolution and has promoted local business alliances called BALLE groups. He decrees the failed policies of local government to assist luring big businesses at the expense of local, small businesses. This must change. We need to keep our money in our communities increasing the times those dollars exchange hands, or “multiplys.” Increasing multipliers should be at the heart of our policies.

Finally, what we need to be talking about is not Green jobs, but green business as this is the place where jabs are created. Supporting small local businesses should be the order, not necessarily training. Most of the green jobs will absorb already existing trades and skills. However, we need all jobs to be green, in other words, we need everyone to be environmentally literate and live more sustainable livelihoods. In doing so, we will save money, live healthier lives, create better communities and save the planet!

What are the Future Jobs and what do we need to see them?

1) Energy efficiency and weatherization

We need better policies that incentivize property owners to upgrade, including financing mechanisms, training in energy audits and installations

2) Local distributed energy production, such as PV, wind, geothermal and biofuels/biomass

We need to stop subsidizing fossil fuels and tax them using the funds to capitalize these types of projects. The multipliers are enormous, reducing flight of capital out of our communities.

3) Green Transportation

This is an enormous job creator and during a recent Fleet Managers meeting here in Durham, green was the hot topic- use of alternative fuels and new hybrid and alt. fuel vehicles. We need trained managers and mechanics.

4) Resource Management

Our communities need better management of our natural resources, that means changing codes and laws, properly valuing these resources and giving more resources to those who manage them.

5) Local foods and value adding

This is an enormous national and local success story. Buoyed by problems and concerns of pesticides, Frankenfoods, carbon footprint, self-sufficiency, etc., local farmers markets and organic farms have taken off. We need to be growing our own food, eating more healthy and value adding this food locally. Small grants and lending programs, community kitchens and training will maximize this “bang for buck.”

What is our biggest struggle?

1) Capital, we need a local lending system and have been promoting a voluntary lending system to mitigate our environmental footprint. This money could be used to lower interest rates and leverage traditional lending institutions.

2) Stabilization of energy prices, everything is tied to energy and its hard for a small business to write a business plan will any credibility when prices fluctuate so dramatically. This can be done by creating a floor for energy prices and local taxes of vehicles and businesses with high fuel consumption, rewarding/incentivising efficiency. This is what they have done in California.

3) Durham needs visioning forums like this one regularly, we need better communication between organizations, liaison and collaboration.

4) We need local policies and taxes that improve multipliers, and support local small businesses, not big corporations

5) Grant writing, we need help in writing grants ourselves and so does the many government offices. Lots of funds are available to transform our society and communities, but we can’t keep up with deadlines or the extensive RFPs

6) Changes in State legislation that will allow communities and cities to innovate

Finally, we need leadership, less politics and turf battles and more collaboration between both public and private sectors and between each other. The time is now and this is nothing less than a revolution! We have what it takes here in this room, off the shelf technology with some old-fashioned “lets solve this problem together” know how.

Thank you