LA city, county to VerdeXchange conference: we want green business, jobs

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LA city and county officials who spoke at the VerdeExchange conference in downtown Los Angeles yesterday delivered a unified message for green entrepreneurs and manufacturers: we want your business. KPCC's Molly Peterson reports.

A lengthening economic downturn and shrinking help wanted listings have combined to make environmental issues into economic ones for Los Angeles politicians. At the opening of VerdeXchange, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa talked about the city's hopes for finding a new anchor for LA's Clean Tech corridor.

Train manufacturer Ansaldobreda backed out of its spot late last year.

LA County Supervisor Mark Ridley Thomas said that property taxes could pay for renewable energy improvements in the county. "As all of us know investments in a low carbon world will not, does not come free," he said. "I recall someone saying at one point I love Ralph Bunche, but I can't eat him for lunch. Nothing comes free."

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa welcomed the meeting by touting the city's green credentials and his attendance at last month's climate conference in Copenhagen. "You know, the countries were all competing to see who could do the least," he said. "The cities were all competing to see who could do the most."

Villaraigosa argues that Los Angeles competes well on that score. He points out a 70 percent reduction in diesel emissions at the port since the clean trucks program began, and renewed a promise to end LA's use of coal power within 10 years.

LA city and county face renewable energy and climate change mandates this year and in the future. Ridley Thomas and Villaraigosa made sure to link those green goals with green jobs with the kind of green investors like to take to the bank.