Ogden metro area ranks 95th in green, clean jobs

Jul 13 2011 - 10:33pm

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OGDEN -- Weber, Davis and Morgan counties rank near the bottom among the nation's 100 largest metropolitan areas in their share of green jobs, but are near the top in job growth, according to a national report released Wednesday.

The report, "Sizing the Clean Economy: A National and Regional Green Jobs Assessment," was produced by the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program based in Washington, D.C., in association with the Battelle Technology Partnership Practice.

It's the first comprehensive study of the green economic sector focused on the country's 100 largest metro areas.

Data was analyzed based on 39 segments reflecting the manufacturing of clean products such as wind turbines and services such as mass transit. The 100 metropolitan areas were ranked based on percentage of total jobs considered green.

The Ogden Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes Weber, Davis and Morgan counties, has 2,111 green jobs, 1 percent of all jobs in the region, ranking it 95th.

However, between 2003 and 2010 the Ogden metro added 927 green jobs for an annual growth rate of 8.6 percent, giving it a sixth-place ranking.

The fastest growing jobs were in organic food and farming, conservation, recycling, recycled content products and professional environmental services.

Major green employers in the metro area include American Specialty Glass Inc., a recycling company in North Salt Lake; and Albion Laboratories Inc., an organic food company and W.R. Grace & Co., a manufacturer of energy-saving building materials, both based in Clearfield, the report states.

John Patterson, Ogden's chief administrative officer, said demographics play a major role in determining if green-oriented businesses, such as recycling companies, succeed. Some companies have a difficult time in the Ogden metro area because there isn't a large enough population for their services, he said.

The Ogden metro area has been challenged because it has had to rely on local funding for green-job creation instead of federal stimulus dollars, Mayor Matthew Godfrey said.

"The green-job funding was fueled largely by the stimulus funding which did not go to 'red' states (that are largely Republican like Utah)," he said in an email. "There are many reports that show that this funding was concentrated in places like Illinois, New York and California for some reason."

On average each green job in the Ogden metro area produces $4,657 in exports, which ranks 97th. The Brookings report also says the estimated median green-job wage in the metro area is $39,615 annually, compared to $34,186 for all jobs in the area.

Overall, the Ogden metro ranks 98th in terms of size of its green-job economy.

By comparison the Salt Lake City metro area ranks 50th, while the Provo metro area ranks last at 100.

The Brookings report also aims to offer suggestions to help governments, policy makers and regional leaders determine what should be done to help the nation's clean, green economy grow.

Some of the recommendations include:

* Take steps to catalyze a vibrant domestic demand for low-carbon and environmentally oriented goods and services.

* Ensure adequate financing by moving to address the serious shortage of affordable, risk-tolerant and larger-scale capital impeding the growth of green industry.

* Drive innovation by investing both more and differently in green industries.

* Focus regionally on growth strategies to advance the green economy.

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