Advanced energy can grow Georgia’s economy and create good jobs

New report shows Georgia’s solar & smart building industries could support 24,000 jobs annually
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Date Published: April 12, 2016

ATLANTA, Ga. — Building on Georgia’s strengths in solar power and smart buildings can maximize job growth and give the state a competitive economic edge. That’s according to the Georgia Jobs Project, a new report created in partnership with Georgia Tech and led by the American Jobs Project. The report is funded by The JPB Foundation, the Berkeley Energy and Climate Institute, and the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society.

“Our research shows that smart policies and a focus on industrial clusters can allow states to become hubs of innovation and job creation in advanced energy industries that dovetail with a state’s own strengths,” said Mary Collins, project manager for the American Jobs Project.

“For Georgia, this approach could employ an average of almost 24,000 people annually in the solar and smart building industries over the next 15 years,” Collins said.

Millions of Americans lost good-paying jobs during the recession, and unfortunately, many of the jobs created during the recovery have been in relatively low-skill, low-income occupations. In contrast, the Georgia Jobs Project proposes innovative strategies and policies designed to create thousands of skilled jobs that pay well for Georgians today and into the future and informed by principles of competition, local control, and less red tape.

The report recommends innovative strategies to support job creation by capitalizing on growing market opportunities and aligning manufacturing with critical economic system components, including access to capital, innovation ecosystems, and workforce development.

The Georgia Jobs Project finds that:

  • In recent years, Georgia spent up to $1.8 billion annually to import fuel to the state. Georgia can keep this money in state and grow the economy by developing advanced energy industries.
  • Georgia has one of the fastest-growing solar markets in the U.S. and the state can build on this momentum by leveraging its anchor manufacturing companies, established research institutions, and supportive business environment.
  • Georgia’s solar industry has the opportunity to employ an average of more than 18,600 Georgians annually over the next 15 years.
  • Georgia can expand into the smart building space with its robust supply chain of industry leaders in energy management and automation as well as the City of Atlanta’s leadership in building performance benchmarking, retrofit policies, and efficient lighting programs.
  • Georgia’s smart building and energy efficiency industry could employ an average of over 5,300 Georgians annually over the next 15 years.

“The American Jobs Project has looked at the job-creating potential of advanced energy for Georgia,” said Valerie Thomas, the Anderson Interface Professor at Georgia Tech’s H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering and School of Public Policy. “In this study, they’ve found that Georgia has job creation advantages in solar energy and in smart building technology. Georgia has business clusters and technology strength in these areas, and there is substantial growth potential. It’s great to see Georgia’s comparative business advantages in solar and efficiency recognized from a national perspective. They identify ways that Georgia could unleash more job creation in solar and efficiency, with ideas for feasible, high-impact actions to increase Georgia’s clean energy jobs.

The American Jobs Project website, which launched this month, features reports on Georgia and nine other states, as well as a Policy Bank detailing best practices and innovative ideas for advanced energy job growth. To learn more, or to download a copy of the Georgia report, visit