Kansas has set its sights on creating 10,000 green jobs, many of them from manufacturing and assembling the parts for wind energy turbines.
The state’s big bet on wind power has attracted a few hundred jobs so far. But even that success shows the huge challenge Kansas faces.
To turn a few hundred jobs into thousands, Kansas has to win big manufacturing projects and attract the companies that supply them, too. And that means beating out China and other foreign competitors who rule those markets.
“We need to temper our expectations on wind energy,” said David Swenson, an Iowa State University economist known for deflating the ethanol industry’s job claims. Now, he says, the same “environment of hype” is developing around wind power.
Kansas’ biggest successes so far — and the reasons to be cautious — can be found in Hutchinson.
Over the last couple of decades, the town lost thousands of jobs and was disappointed in its efforts to lure new companies. But that luck changed in 2009 when Siemens Energy announced it would build a plant in Hutchinson.
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