Urban League Wants Inner City Green Zones

The National Urban League, looking to leverage the Obama administration’s interest in boosting renewable energy development, is calling for the creation of Green Empowerment Zones as a major plank in a 12-point plan to boost employment in urban communities.

The century-old civil rights organization wants manufacturers of solar panels, wind turbines and the like that open plants in high-unemployment areas to be given a three-year break on federal income taxes and capital gains taxes – but only if half of their workers come from the high-employment area where they’re located. The companies would also need to retain those workers for at least three years.

green jobs for minories, inner city

image via National Urban League

Other aspects of the Urban League plan are focused on giving workers – and potential entrepreneurs – the tools they need to succeed. This is especially true in information and communication technology (ICT) industries, the league said, where minorities are especially underrepresented.

“Triggering minority participation in ICT industries is critical for a robust, long-term recovery,” the organization said. To do that, the Urban League said, government needs to do things to “lift skills in science, technology, engineering and math; expand low-income programs of the universal service fund to broadband; reform the universal service fund to better target urban areas; adopt national policies on contracting diversity similar to those of state utilities commissions; and ensure that minority intermediaries are active participants in the decision making process.”

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.

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