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Cabinet's Solis tells of 'green' job grants

"Cabinet's Solis tells of 'green' job grants(By Mimi Abebe via Arkansas Democrat Gazette)WEST MEMPHIS - U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis announced in Memphis on
Wednesday $500 million in grants available to prepare workers for ""green""
jobs.Four of the five grant programs announced, which are funded through the
America Recovery Reinvestment Act of 2009, are geared toward
worker-training programs in energy-efficiency and renewable-energy
industries.Solis later toured the Arkansas Delta Training and Education Consortium at
Mid-South Community College in West Memphis as part of her visit to the
Delta to promote ""green"" jobs to boost the economy.The high cost of fuels and the increase in job losses make such jobs more
important than ever for the economy, she said. Programs like the consortium
at Mid-South Community College help prepare the next generation of workers,
she said.""That is the kind of career pipeline we want to establish for all these
green jobs,"" Solis said. ""We knew we had to do something to get back at our
manufacturing base. A lot of this is going to require major investment, not
just from the federal government.""Potentially, this could be a place where some of that money will find its
way,"" Solis said.Keeping jobs in the United States and promoting environmentally friendly
technology are among Solis' priorities, she said, and that's why the Obama
administration promotes programs such as the Arkansas Delta Training and
Education Consortium.The education consortium - part of the Arkansas Delta Workforce Innovations
in Regional Economic Development project - got its start in 2005 with the
help of funding from the Labor Department, she said.Glen Fenter, president of Mid-South Community College, said community
colleges are positioned to help put the United States back in the position
of being the most productive and prosperous country in the world.""The way our economy works requires a very different model of how we think
about educating our populace,"" Fenter said.The consortium acquired $36.1 million in ""investments"" in four years, a
news release from the college said. Those funds have been used to train
more than 9,000 workers in manufacturing, renewable-energy and
transportation, distribution and logistics industries in the region.In addition to Mid-South, Arkansas Northeastern College, Arkansas State
University-Newport, East Arkansas Community College and Phillips Community
College of the University of Arkansas participate in the consortium.""Historically we haven't had the kind of resources we need to do what we
need to do,"" Fenter said. ""I think this state and our country will see huge
benefits in a very short period of time.""Four of the competitive grants Solis announced Wednesday are designed to
train workers through national, state and community outlets: energy
training partnership grants; pathways out of poverty grants; state energy
sector partnership and training grants; and ""green"" capacity building
grants, according to a joint news release from some Democratic members of
Arkansas' congressional delegation.The fifth competition, grants for state labor-market information
improvement, will fund state workforce agencies that will collect, analyze
and disseminate labormarket information and develop labor-exchange
infrastructure to direct individuals toward ""green"" jobs, the news release
said.""As we look to get our economy back on its feet, energy initiatives such as
this will play a vital role in creating green jobs in Arkansas, stimulating
our economy, and strengthening our national security,"" U.S. Sen. Blanche
Lincoln, D-Ark., said in the news release.Sen. Mark Pryor, also D-Ark., said in the news release that the initiative
would ""help create good-paying jobs in Arkansas, grow our state's economy
and bring America one step closer to becoming energy independent.""""Now more than ever, job training programs operated at the local level with
the help of federal funding ar"