March 14, 2016
Dear Honorable Delegate Jameson,
Maryland has enacted clean energy policies that distinguish our state as a national leader when it comes to investing in clean technology. The clean energy sector—inclusive of wind energy, solar energy, energy efficiency, advanced batteries, and other clean technologies—is an important and growing sector of our state’s economy. This sector represents a huge economic growth opportunity for Southern Maryland, which is why we strongly support and urge a favorable report on HB 1106 – the Clean Energy Jobs Act.
The Southern Maryland Minority Chamber of Commerce, Inc. (SMMCOC) exists to make the community a better place for all. The SMMCOC is a proponent for business growth, as well as economic development and empowerment. As such, we strongly believe that HB 1106 will advance economic prosperity Southern Maryland while providing numerous environmental and health-related co-benefits.
With its focus on job creation, HB 1106 is a great example of smart green growth. The legislation would encourage more clean energy development through higher Renewable Portfolio Standard targets, while also putting in place funding mechanisms to increase the diversity of business owners and employees. In particular, the bill invests new funding into clean energy workforce development and minority and women-owned business growth. As an organization committed to promoting civic, commercial, and industrial progress within the community, SMMCOC would work with local partners to make this funding available to minority- and woman-owned businesses in Southern Maryland to help them enter and grow within the clean energy economy. We could also engage in helping to foster strong strategic industry partnerships to support pre-apprenticeship, apprenticeship, and other workforce programs to establish career pathways in the clean energy industry.
This investment is critical. The clean energy industry is growing rapidly, but more must be done to make it more diverse. There is a 34.6% gap in employing women and a 9.3% gap in employing African Americans in Maryland’s solar industry relative to their representation in Maryland’s overall workforce.
Similarly, there are not enough minority- and women-owned businesses participating in Maryland’s clean energy economy today. Without a diversity of people who actively engage in the energy economy, Maryland will lack a diversity of thought, missing the right people at the table to address challenges, ask questions, and expand our knowledge in the clean energy field.
This legislation will significantly enhance the access to capital that is so necessary for companies to thrive and create jobs. Higher clean energy goals combined with a Clean Energy Business Development Fund and a Clean Energy Workforce Account will send a clear signal that Maryland wants and welcomes entrepreneurs in this growing field.
We represent businesses and organizations devoted to economic development in Southern Maryland. We exist to promoting civic, commercial, and industrial progress within the community. We therefore urge a favorable report on HB 1106.
Doris J. Cammack-Spencer – President/CEO