Launched in 2008 by President Obama, the Illinois Green Economy Network is a partnership of all of the 48 community colleges in 39 districts in Illinois whose goal is to grow Illinois’ green economy by using the best sustainable practices possible, reducing energy demand, and creating much needed jobs. Locally, Carl Sandburg College is part of this network.
IGEN’s four strategic program areas are working to boost a more green-focused economy through focusing on:
- Green campuses
The grant money is part of a $2 billion, four-year investment that is intended to provide community colleges around the country with training programs to assist unemployed workers in transitioning to careers in high-growth fields. The goal is to connect community colleges and businesses so that upon graduation, students will have the necessary skills to be competitive in the labor market and obtain quality jobs.
Carl Sandburg College is offering an Associate’s degree in Applied Science in Biofuels Manufacturing Technology. The program provides a combination of classroom instruction, online learning, and hands-on training to its participants. Steve Sager says the grant, “We were able to purchase state-of-the-art Ethanol, Biodiesel and Process Control trainers to be used in the laboratory components of our courses.”
Education in an environmentally green field is not only environmentally smart, but it is economically smart. Steve Sager says, “The economy is predicting a new rise in “green collar workers,” and subsequently, more students are preparing for jobs in the field of renewable resources, eliminating harmful emissions, and other “green” career avenues. In the field of sustainable biofuels, our Biofuels Manufacturing Technology program will prepare a workforce with the knowledge, skills and abilities to work in this industry sector.”
What does all this mean for our area? One big advantage is jobs. We can now qualify people to step foot into the growing green industry of biofuels. It would be a good advantage to add possibilities for more companies that employ green workers. These companies create need for more resources. Farmers may see an increased demand for crops. Companies like Pennycress Energy Company are already trying to get farmers on board with growing crops that help create bio diesel. A green focus opens new possibilities to the Galesburg area.
These efforts effectively integrate the work done by the City of Galesburg and the Sustainable Business Center to make West Central Illinois the gateway for green businesses and technology.
Article by Tim Worrell, Economic Development Intern for the City of Galesburg.