Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Great Recession Geography: Help Wanted In Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh needs a blog dedicated to the energy economy. There is at least enough news for a daily post on the subject. The "Natural Gas Gold Rush" is already making a huge impact on the regional job market. Pennsylvania is now scrambling to meet the demand for labor:

The report suggests that, depending on the intensity of development, between 1,292 and 2,153 direct, full-time jobs could be required in the Northern Tier ( Bradford, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Tioga and Wyoming counties ) this year to support well drilling and production. The number of jobs is expected to grow to between 2,107 and 3,511 by 2011 and to between 3,281 and 5,468 by 2013.

In the Central Region ( Centre, Clinton, Columbia, Lycoming, Mifflin, Montour, Northumberland, Snyder and Union counties ), between 325 and 542 direct, full-time jobs are projected in 2009; that number is expected to increase to between 1,347 and 2,245 in 2011-13 as drilling intensifies in this region.

In addition to these direct-employment projections, the Pennsylvania Economy League recently estimated that each direct job in the Pennsylvania oil and gas industry creates an additional 1.52 indirect jobs throughout the economy.

Beyond natural gas, Obama is dangling a lot of incentives to buy votes for the American Clean Energy and Security Act. The nuclear industry (i.e. Westinghouse) received the good word yesterday:

The endorsement of a nuclear revival – a generation after the last reactor was commissioned – suggests the Obama administration is open to further compromises as it seeks to find a path through the Senate. The House of Representatives narrowly passed a climate change bill late last month.

Republicans in the Senate, who are almost universally opposed to action aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, as well as Democrats from rust belt states, have been clamouring for a "nuclear renaissance" in America, which would see the construction of 100 new nuclear power plants by 2030.

There appears to be a deluge of federal energy dollars heading to Greater Pittsburgh (which includes Youngstown). But the Obama-Burgh lovefest doesn't stop there:

Last Tuesday, June 30, President Barack Obama highlighted innovative programs that are transforming communities around the country, calling upon foundations, the private secto and social entrepreneurs to partner with the newly created Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation to invest and scale up these innovative programs.

Pittsburgh Social Entrepreneurs Felix Brandon Lloyd (Skill-Life), Chris Koch, & Andrew Butcher (GTECH Strategies), all current Echoing Green Fellows were among the select crowd of social innovators from around the country gathered for the President’s announcement.

Having recently created the Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation along with a $50 Million Social Innovation Fund the President declared that “now more than ever, we need to build cross-sector partnerships to transform our schools, improve the health of Americans, and employ more people in clean energy and other emerging industries.”

All of the above helps to explain why Carnegie Mellon University's Don Marinelli lists energy analyst as a Pittsburgh hot job in the near future:

It won't be long before Pittsburgh's focus on green energy competes with robotics for top ranking among new industries resident in the area. It seems only fitting that a town once referred to as "Hell With the Lid Off" should re-invent itself as a center for clean-energy research and development. Pittsburgh stands to become a leader in educating a new breed of public-utility experts intent on creating an energy renaissance stretching beyond the three rivers to encompass the world.

Keep an eye on initiatives coming out of the recent Sustainable Energy Forum in Youngstown. Word of mouth speaks very highly of the gathering with some interesting companies and individuals in attendance.

Forum combines national perspectives with a regional economic development focus on specific initiatives in the Ohio/Pennsylvania/West Virginia tri-state area.

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