State Names San Diego “Innovation Hub,” Awards $4M Grant for Biofuels Worker Training

6/30/10Follow @bvbigelow

The California Department of Labor says it has awarded the San Diego region a $4 million grant to create job training programs for workers in the  emerging biofuels industry.

In a related announcement, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Office of Economic Development today named the combined area of San Diego and Imperial Counties as the state’s seventh innovation Hub, or iHub. The designation is meant to advance the state’s national and global economic competitiveness by stimulating regional partnerships, economic development, and job creation around research clusters. In San Diego’s case, the economic development office identified mobile health, biofuels, and solar energy and energy storage as technology clusters.

The biofuels job training program is intended to train and certify workers for such jobs as biofuels lab technician, biofuels crop management, and advanced training in biofuels crop research. The grant was the result of a collaborative initiative among biofuel proponents that included the San Diego Center for Algae Biotechnology, (SD-CAB), Cleantech San Diego, Biocom, the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp., and the San Diego Workforce Partnership. The initiative sought the grant through a “green innovation challenge” through the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency.

In seeking funding, the initiative proposed a career-directed approach to help workers acquire the necessary skills and training to win jobs in the emerging biofuels industry. It was one of five programs throughout the state that got a portion of $20 million allotted from the California Contingency Fund and the Federal Workforce Investment Act.

“This grant recognizes that San Diego’s innovation economy continues to foster the growth of new and important industries,” Biocom CEO Joe Panetta says in a statement released today.

An analysis of algal biofuels research and development that was done earlier this month by the San Diego County of Governments’ (SANDAG) economic bureau found that the algae biofuels industry already provides 410 direct jobs and $56 million in direct economic activity.

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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