Sustainable economic development and cleantech cluster growth benefit from an unconventional approach to economic development. The Boston Redevelopment Authority’s strategy involves four components: Demand, Growth, Green Talent, and Networking.
The “Demand” refers largely to policy and regulatory levers. Cleantech is heavily weighted toward clean energy, and the regulatory environment within the energy industry is complex and constantly changing. Working closely with the City’s Environmental and Energy Services office, under Jim Hunt’s leadership, the GreenTech initiative is helping to shape a wide array of energy and resource management policy which, in turn, send powerful market signals to existing cleantech companies and those we seek to attract to Boston. We also work closely with our energy and sustainability colleagues at the state level to ensure our policies and programs and incentives are aligned.
By Growth, I refer to the companies that are already here or those that we’re trying to attract, as they grow, secure financing, build alliances, influence policy change, launch new product lines, identify pilot projects, find new customers, or create strategic partnerships. We help businesses pursue these goals, often with help from the BRA’s talented business finance team, my colleagues in the City’s Environmental and Energy Services office, or our close partners at the state level at the Department of Energy Resources and the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center.
Green Talent refers to workforce training. The cleantech workforce training apparatus, at the state and municipal level, is still gearing up to meet the growing and diverse workforce demand of cleantech employers. Jobseekers are challenged with new skill sets, an expectation that they achieve some degree of environmental literacy, and a credential intensive industry. Cleantech employers value applicants with a strong STEM (science technology math engineering) background. GreenTech actively informs the City’s green jobs programming efforts and view relevant green workforce training as critical to our strategy to attract and retain cleantech businesses. GreenTech collaborates closely with the BRA’s Jobs and Community Services division which has launched a Green Jobs Training Institute to better prepare Bostonians for the growing opportunities in cleantech and now maintains green job listings.
Networking refers to our efforts to bring cleantech companies together, to link them with decision makers and opinion leaders, regulators, investors, and journalists. These connections help strengthen the industry, define it in the eyes of the public, boost our political profile, and build momentum and community. We are joined in this effort by wonderfully effective NGO partners including the New England Clean Energy Council.
GreenTech Boston At a Glance
A strong culture of sustainability, some of the most cutting edge climate change and green building policies, and extraordinary growth and investment in clean tech in Massachusetts make Boston a strategic location for launching a new green business, or expanding an existing one. Boston’s growing cleantech cluster includes renewable energy system component manufacturers, climate change adaptation consulting groups, energy management ventures, energy efficient product designers, green building design and engineering shops, as well as an array of cleantech venture capital firms and R&D institutions.
Let us help you build your green business in Boston
1. Site Selection – In addition to helping you identify possible locations for your business in one of Boston’s 17 neighborhoods, the Boston Redevelopment Authority offers a range of very competitive office and light industrial space in the Boston Marine Industrial Park, where a growing number of cleantech companies are located including Sat Con, Next Step Living, and Fast Cap Systems.
2. Financing Assistance - The BRA offers very competitive financing to businesses large and small for a wide range of needs. There are a growing number of third party financing tools available to green businesses and for clean energy/green financing projects including those offered by ACCION and New Generation Energy.
3. Workforce Training – Through our jobs and community service program, the BRA offers focused training opportunities for tomorrow’s workforce. Recently, the city took the lead in dedicating a quarter of a million dollars to developing green workforce capacity.
4. Single Point of Contact – Our staff assist current and prospective Boston green businesses navigate the City of Boston and provide links to relevant energy efficiency and renewable energy feasibility and incentive resources
About GreenTech Business Manager Galen Nelson
Galen is responsible for developing and implementing the Authority’s green business development strategy and a range of initiatives related to sustainable business practices. Galen is also an active participant in the City of Boston’s energy efficiency and renewable energy program and policy development.
Prior to joining the BRA, Galen worked at the Green Roundtable, a green building consulting and advocacy firm, where he managed the construction of the NEXUS Green Building Resource Center. Galen also served as a green consultant to the City of Boston’s Department of Neighborhood Development (DND) from 2007-2008, overseeing with two other consultants the development of DND’s Green Affordable Housing Program including disbursement of a $2million grant from the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative to fund renewable energy installations on affordable housing projects in Boston.
Galen serves on the Employment and Workforce Development committee of the STAR Community Index, a project of ICLEI and on the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Climate Change Adaptation: Local Economy and Government subcommittee.
Before joining the green building world, Galen founded and served as the executive director of a national political strategy group and worked for several national and state level political organizations as a lobbyist, researcher, and organizer. Galen lives in Boston’s Jamaica Plain neighborhood with his wife and five sons.