By Wendy Patton

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 cut taxes for businesses and households, boosted safety net services for the eight million who lost their jobs, and jump-started job creation.

Midway through the three years of Recovery Act programming, a little more than half of the money has been awarded. Policy Matters Ohio took a look at how the state is faring in getting and spending the money in the categories of energy and the environment. So far, the news is good.

The Recovery Act allocated over $100 billion to jumpstart job creation in energy and the environment. Companies, schools, agencies, universities and individuals across Ohio jumped on the opportunity. A billion dollars have already been awarded here and Ohio ranks seventh in getting the money out on the streets, with more awards coming every week.

Funded projects have created jobs in construction as workers have been hired to upgrade housing and buildings for energy efficiency. Close to 19,000 homes have been weatherized, creating over 2,000 jobs. A water treatment plant in Wilmington will be powered by solar panels, cutting water bills for residents. A jail in Wood County will get new and more efficient boilers, lowering costs. Homes will receive smart meters, allowing customers to monitor their own energy use. Clean water and sewer projects have been built throughout the state, employing construction workers in repairing or expanding infrastructure. Nuclear sites are being cleaned up. Factories have received tax credits to start new lines and to develop new clean energy products. Demand for manufactured goods for these projects -- from insulation, windows and solar panels to industrial sensors and controls -- has pulsed through Ohio’s industrial base, boosting orders and creating factory jobs.

We found these projects in all counties and in towns and cities of all sizes. Funding has reached the places hardest hit by the recession, as mandated in the legislation. Using a formula that adds poverty and unemployment rates in each county to measure economic distress, we divided the 88 counties into four equal groups (quartiles) based on economic conditions. The 22 counties with the weakest economies received the highest per-
capita funding of $172 per resident in the categories of clean energy and the environment, almost double the state average.

The second largest per-capita funding of $79 went to counties with moderately lagging economies. The third quartile, made up of counties with moderately strong economies, received a per-capita average of $73. The fourth quartile of counties, with relatively strong economies, received $60 per resident. Distribution of Recovery Act funds in clean energy and the environment reached all counties in a way that provided most to the neediest places.

The short-term mission of the Recovery Act of providing relief to workers, families and communities struggling with the recession, is being fulfilled, while the long-term national economic strategy is being addressed at the same time.

The international market for clean energy investment is immense. By 2020, clean energy will be one of the world’s biggest industries, totaling as much as $2.3 trillion. Our international competitors have integrated national policies to build their own domestic clean energy companies and capture market share in global markets. Spain and Germany, major contenders in green markets, invest heavily in companies that make products for clean energy generation, but also mandate a transformation to renewable sources. China, the world’s largest supplier for these markets, provides incentives for firms from around the globe to come and manufacture clean energy products there, and also has national goals to shift domestic energy supply to renewable energy sources. The only policy employed by our federal government here is the funding under the Recovery Act, and Ohio is doing well in grabbing that opportunity.

In the short run, Ohio has benefitted from Recovery Act support of clean energy and the environment. Funding has reached all counties and has helped those places most hurt by the recession. In the long run, a foundation is being laid for a competitive manufacturing base that can compete in global clean energy markets. It’s a good deal for Ohioans.
Patton is a senior associate at Policy Matters Ohio.
Copyright (C) 2010 by Ohio Forum. 10/10