You know a project is good for economic development when chamber leaders cross state lines to support it—and that’s what happened around wind energy in North Carolina last week.
More than a dozen chamber and economic development leaders from the Tar Heel state, as well as South Carolina and Ohio, gathered to talk about the connection between wind energy and new jobs and investments in their communities. They were joined by NC Rep. Bob Steinburg (R) and more than 80 business and community leaders.
“My job is to support “buy local”, create jobs, and help the economy,” said Kelly Thorsby, Director of North Carolina’s Elizabeth City Area Chamber, which will soon be home to a new wind farm that will supply energy to Amazon and over $1 million annually to the local community. “And this project is doing all three.”
South Carolina’s Marc Jordan, President and CEO of the North Myrtle Beach Chamber, agreed, adding that he would like to see a friendly competition between North and South Carolina for renewable energy investments.
“It is about jobs, it is about quality of life,” said Jordan. “If you look in South Carolina, BMW, Boeing, and others have deadlines at which time they pledge to be 80 percent, 40 percent, 60 percent renewables.” That, he said, is why he is promoting offshore wind development in his community: because demand for renewables will only continue to grow.
Offering an Ohio perspective, Van Wert Area Chamber CEO Susan Munroe pointed to the ongoing benefits her community gains from development of a $600 million wind farm, including $2 million a year in new revenue for schools, high-paying jobs, and a new stream of income for area farmers.
“Beyond the huge initial investment, wind is a cash crop that reliably pays year after year, no matter what the conditions,” she said.
The event, which attracted about 80 public officials and business leaders, was organized by Chambers for Innovation and Clean Energy and the Southeast Area Wind Coalition.
Learn more about the economic potential of wind development here.