Partly due to MAGE SOLAR at Lowndes High School (thanks, Jerome Tucker!), the Valdosta – Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce (VLCoC) has taken an interest in renewable energy. ReKasa Deen, Business Development Director, already heads the Chamber’s Opportunity Central:
The Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber is positioning Metro Valdosta as Opportunity Central with opportunities for business to grow and thrive, career opportunities for well-educated young professionals and opportunities for cultural interests and active lifestyles.
New jobs follow bright and creative professionals…Ms. Ballard and Ms. Deen have repeatedly said they see renewable energy as a source of jobs for graduates of our local high schools and colleges.
What do they mean by renewable energy? Well, that’s still being determined, but they asked me for suggestions beyond just solar PV, and what I suggested was at least six things: wind, ground loop, conservation, efficiency, solar PV, and solar heating. That plus maybe the Chamber is the appropriate organization to organize the renewable energy study I keep calling for. With grant funding, that could be work for professors at VSU and Wiregrass Tech.
What is VLCoC going to do about renewable energy? ReKasa Deen has been tasked with organizing a renewable energy network, which will arrange a series of events for Chamber members about renewable energy, especially related to knowledge-based jobs. She was at the MAGE SOLAR LHS event and at the Wiregrass Solar Commissioning. She has been preoccupied with another event she was organizing, which has now happened, so presumably we’ll start to hear more shortly. If you’re interested in the Renewable Energy Network, it’s best to contact ReKasa, rdeen at valdostachamber.com. This is primarily for Chamber members (I’m a Chamber member), so you’ll probably want to join to participate. You may think, “What, me join the Chamber of Commerce?” Well, if you want them to think along your lines….
People who have been involved in organizing the Renewable Energy Network so far have been Jerome Tucker, Dr. Dennis Marks, Myrna Ballard, ReDasa Deen, and me. As Jerome has said:
And with this industry there’s opportunity for engineers, there’s opportunity for electricians, there’s opportunity for plumbers, truck drivers, across the board.
Will the Chamber solve all our renewable energy problems? Of course not. But they do have a large number of members who are interested in jobs, so they’re another organization that can help get the renewable energy industry jump-started in south Georgia. Also, Opportunity Central’s “full blown effort to create a smarter community” is a bit of a contrast to VLCIA’s nineteenth century model of “we’re industry” as in big smokestack industry. VLCIA is actually showing some glimmer of interest in distributed business rooftop solar lately, but the Chamber gets that from the git-go.
Earlier I promised to spell out what I meant by “So does this mean reinforcing the old boy network? No, it means expanding it to include more of the community.” This Renewable Energy Network is part (but not all) of what I meant. It’s well known I don’t agree with the Chamber on everything (see CUEE). But in the case of renewable energy, they seem to get it. And if they get it, they can show those renewable energy carrots to their numerous members. And that will also get the attention of local elected and appointed officials.
The most common question I get about this project is, “Will the Chamber actually do anything about it?” My answer is, “I think so, because they see it as jobs.” And I guess we’re about to find out. Over to you, ReKasa.