Thursday, February 19, 2009

Is Solar an Opportunity for Faith Ventures?

I am a big fan of Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles as I explained in a recent post. This past weekend, the Wall Street Journal detailed a new solar industry-training program started by Homeboy in the past year. I smiled when I read this because I have been brainstorming new job training opportunities over the last few months. One of the concepts that I am exploring is solar energy installation.

We are always looking for opportunities to create businesses that employ individuals rebuilding lives from addiction, homelessness or felony convictions. The perfect opportunity provides a skilled labor-intensive position in a sustainable industry with the possibility of living wages. The burgeoning solar industry seems like it may offer such a mix of opportunity over the next few years in Colorado.

I blogged last year about how the sustainable energy industry is growing in Colorado because of its proximity to the National Renewable Entergy Labs in Golden. The Wired grant provides funds to train individuals with felony convictions for jobs in this industry. In a similar way, solar energy installation is a great job opportunity for individuals with felony backgrounds if we can find a solar training partner. It appears that the new tax credits for solar energy installation finally make such an option cost-effective for the typical homeowner. And even if the industry doesn’t prove itself to be sustainable in the long run, it is a useful first step towards training in HVAC and electrical contracting---other fields we have felt would be attractive for the clients we serve. For organizations or individuals interested in building a high-impact faith venture, I think the solar industry deserves further examination.

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