August 28, 2009

Oregon seeks clean-tech expansion

Oregon has doubled its efforts in the past year to recruit clean-tech companies to set up shop in the state, a state development official said.

The Oregon Business Development Department has 45 economic development officials, many working to lure solar power manufacturing companies to Oregon, Bruce Laird, one of the recruitment officials, told The Wall Street Journal.

In August, Gov. Ted Kulongonski vetoed a bill that would have cut tax breaks for clean-energy companies, despite a 2009-11 budget reduction of $3.2 billion.

Oregon, with the fourth highest unemployment rate in the country -- 11.9 percent -- is desperate for jobs.

It is also one of the leading states in terms of growing its clean-energy economy, said Phyllis Cuttino, director of the Pew Environment Group's U.S. Global Warming campaign.

A Pew study found one of every 100 workers in Oregon worked in clean-tech jobs in 2007, a 50 percent rise in nine years.

By example, Oregon agreed to give German company SolarWorld AG $40 million in tax credits in 2006, enticing the firm to take over a vacant plant formerly owned by Japanese chipmaker Komatsu Ltd.

Oregon up to this point has been great, said Gordon Brinser, vice president of operations at SolarWorld Industries America.