Dana Dorsey has been busy. She just finished celebrating the graduation of the first class of the Memphis Clean and Green Job Training Program. More than 20 unemployed or under-employed Memphians were trained and certified through an Environmental Protection Agency funded program at the Memphis Bioworks Foundation.
The job training program is free and is aimed at addressing not only job needs in the city, but also at increasing energy efficiency savings. As Ms. Dorsey puts it “the main goal is to address environmental issues and disparities within our city.”
The program trains participants for five specific occupations: environmental technician, energy response technician, energy auditor, construction and abatement specialist. Over a period of three years, EPA funding will allow Bioworks to train 75 unemployed or underemployed Memphians for environmental positions throughout the city.
Bioworks’ job training program is aligned with the Memphis Clean and Green Initiative, a 5-year sustainability strategy that is part of the Mayor A.C. Wharton’s Blueprint for Prosperity. The first phase of the Mayor’s Clean and Green Initiative focused on energy efficiency and is projected to save the city $8 million annually in energy costs.
Memphis Bioworks Foundation focuses on creating companies, jobs and investments in bioscience. Along with those goals, the group works to fight blight and aid in making safer, healthier communities for the city of Memphis. As Bioworks’ Job Training Manager, Ms. Dorsey’s goal hopes to use these trainings as a means of creating a healthier, more vibrant city – a city filled with skilled workers working to make the community more sustainable overall. Ultimately, Bioworks wants to attract more attention to environmentally conscious efforts in Memphis and show that communities within the city are socially sensitive to these issues.
Ms. Dorsey’s work will become increasingly important as states, including Tennessee, work towards compliance with EPA’s recently finalized Clean Power Plan. The Clean Power Plan recognizes that communities who have long suffered negative health effects at the hands of coal-fired generation should be some of the first communities to see the benefits of a cleaner energy sector.
This is why groups like Bioworks are so important – they provide the hands-on training needed to ensure that as more clean energy related jobs become available, there are those ready to step in and fill these much needed jobs.
A recent survey showed that there are currently over 45,000 clean energy jobs in Tennessee – a number that will continue to grow as solar and wind resources drop in price and energy efficiency becomes more important in a warming world. With the help of groups like Bioworks, we can ensure that communities like Memphis reap the economic benefits of a clean energy economy.