Calif. capital looks for boost from green economy

Sacramento BeeDecember 1, 2008 

SACRAMENTO, Calif. _ The largest solar-panel factory on the continent is taking shape in Sacramento's McClellan Park, part of a possible economic takeoff based on environmental technology.

Economic development officials say more than half the companies checking out the region are in clean-tech. And state government is rolling out the nation's most ambitious energy-efficiency and renewable power programs, making it a huge potential ally _ and customer _ for the green economy.

Barack Obama's election win has added to the excitement. During the presidential campaign, Obama pledged to spend $150 billion over 10 years to create 5 million green jobs, and green-tech investment looks to be one of the pillars of the economic stimulus package he's been promoting over the last week.

The capital area's green business sector is still small, employing perhaps 1,500 people. Local sources of venture capital are scarce. And it's tough to grow a business of any kind in today's economic climate. Still, many say Sacramento is holding an ace: state government.

Through regulations, incentives and purchasing decisions, the state will define the market for green technology in a way it hasn't in previous tech booms, said Andrew Hargadon, a former Apple product designer who's now a professor of business and head of the Energy Efficiency Center at the University of California, Davis.

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