Greening Job Hubs

by | May 6, 2024

Future State

Thriving job hubs designed and equipped for a green economy

A place based, green economy strategy offers the potential to reverse current trends of industrial sprawlIndustrial sprawl: The uncontrolled expansion of industrial zones, often near urban areas, that can be influenced by factors such as tax incentives and zoning laws that favor industrial development. and leads to lower commute times and costs, improved access to talent, reduced distance discrimination, and reducing carbon emissions, all outcomes that are good for people, businesses and public sector balance sheets.

 

Where (really) matters.

Focused attention to growing green job hubs offers the potential to reverse current trends of industrial sprawl. So far, the geographic footprint of the green economy looks much like its predecessor. Many new manufacturing plants are spread around the country in exurban locations, taking advantage of state incentives and greenfield sites. That said, the transition is in its earliest stages, with recent investments meeting the demand of the most ready projects. As noted in The Two Tomorrows, while industrial sprawl results from a series of individual decisions, it is not merely the consequence of a free market. Strategic investments in transportation, site improvement, agricultural preservation, and business incentives can encourage better development patterns, improve the long-term connections between people and jobs, and, fundamentally, improve our region’s overall competitiveness. The shift toward the green economy will elevate new place-based investment considerations.

And Ohio has a starting advantage, which can make such investments worthwhile. While recent expansion in the tech economy was largely place-agnostic, the green economy transformation will be different. It will be rooted to specific locations, supply chains and energy sources. Ohio’s manufacturing base, infrastructure and workforce offer benefits, which could be leveraged with a deliberate strategy to include land readiness, diversified options for renewable energy, and innovative finance. A place-based, green economy strategy offers the potential to reverse current trends of industrial sprawl and lead to lower commute times and costs, improved access to talent, reduced distance discrimination, and reduced carbon emissions, all outcomes that are good for people, businesses and public sector balance sheets.

Over the next five years, as companies assess tax incentives and market opportunities, broader investment in more places and across a broader range of industries is likely. Business attraction in the green economy is a real opportunity and can bring significant job gains and expand traded sector income in Northeast Ohio.

Nevertheless, most investments — by number and potentially in terms of jobs — will come from existing local business expansion into new product lines and processes. This can be an advantage for Northeast Ohio, where existing manufacturers like Lincoln Electric are expanding into EV charging and wind turbines, and Cleveland-Cliffs is planning for green steel. Shifting the geography of manufacturing by working with existing firms to expand in job hubsJob hubs: Areas of concentrated economic activity in a region where there are high levels of: traded-sector jobs, multiple traded-sector employers, alignment with local development patterns, and alignment with civic priorities and economic development opportunities is a win.

There is growing evidence that thriving green job hubsGreen job hub: A job hub that is intentionally focused on green economic activity. Examples
might include creating a cluster of firms with green products and services; a specific effort to future-proof the practices and processes of an existing jobs hub; or an effort within a jobs hub to collaborate on green energy initiatives and/or production within their shared geographic area
, with both new and existing businesses, help regions market their green bona fides, reduce costs and emissions through shared infrastructure, and access to a skilled workforce.

(Note: A full glossary of Green Economy terms can be found at the end of the guide, starting on page 92.)

Key Actors

  • Brownfield cleanup programs
  • Business Attraction Partners
  • City and county administrators
  • Land banks
  • Land owners, development partners
  • Utilities

Strategy Guidance

Tier 1: Fundamentals

Align existing efforts for site development toward green job hubs

Tier 2: Cutting Edge

Build out and market multiple green job hubs in the region

Tier 3: Globally Distinctive

Create circular and symbiotic regional clean industry

Get the Practical Guide to the Green Economy

Greening Job Hubs is one strategic imperative for growing the everyone economy in a green future. Download The Practical Guide to the Green Economy below and read on for more insights, ideas and imperatives from the Fund for Our Economic Future.

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