The Green Collar Economy by Van Jones

Van Jones Still on Target

International Economic  Development Council

A month ago, Van Jones was the White House’s key advisor on Green Jobs, and scheduled to be a keynote speaker at this year’s EDAC conference in Vancouver.  Just days ago, however, he stepped down and cancelled all appearances as a result of political infighting, having been accused of ties in the early 1990s to a Marxist organization known as STORM and of uttering “disparaging comments” about (apparently thin-skinned) Congressional Republicans.  Of course, this fall from grace comes after Time magazine named him one of the 100 Most Influential People of 2009 and Fast Company magazine called him one of the 12 Most Creative Minds of 2008, and his 2009 book The Green Collar Economy became an international bestseller.

So who’s the real Van Jones and does he have anything important to say?  Politics aside, this book may be one of the most important economic development publications this year.  He may not be at the White House any longer, but Van Jones uses this book to lay out the thinking and structure of President Obama’s green job creation initiatives, which are projected to create 5 million jobs over the next four years. Other jurisdictions may be slower in formulating their own agendas, but sooner or later we’ll all be chasing job growth in this sector, and Jones’ book is a primer on what we’ll have to do to prepare and compete.  Though parts of the book are a little thin, overall it’s a helpful source and includes a great 18-page list of additional resources for communities.  We don’t know where Van Jones is going to land once the political imbroglio blows over, but it’s likely he’ll continue to have important things to say wherever he is.