DeLauro: Green Tech Will Help Turn Around Economy

C.J. Forse Photo New Haven’s U.S. Congresswoman visited a local alternative energy shop Thursday to meet with entrepreneurs and green techies. Bruce Crowder, who works there, sent in this report:

“There is a real role for government to be a catalyst”, said U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro of New Haven Thursday at a small Connecticut technology firm. To a company that uses catalytic technology to drive everything from fuel cell systems to kitchen griddles, this was a light joke. But it also summarized her philosophy for letting government plant seeds for real economic growth in the technology sector.
DeLauro toured Precision Combustion, Inc (PCI) on Sackett Point Road in North Haven on Thursday, and afterward met with businesses leaders to explore what she can do to support technology development for future jobs.  The Congresswoman insisted that investment in small technology businesses is particularly important since these jobs typically stay local: “We want to create jobs here and ship the products overseas.”
DeLauro walked through PCI’s test and production areas, and talked with the employees.  The company is developing fuel reformers and other green technology for the U.S. military and Department of Energy, as well as U.S. and European customers.  PCI’s fuel reformers allow fuels cells, which require hydrogen as a fuel, to use conventional fuels such as diesel, natural gas, home heating oil, biofuels or even specialized military fuels. 
DeLauro commented about public/private partnerships – using federal R&D dollars to leverage private sector jobs in the green tech field.  With 50% personnel growth since 2009, PCI is seen as a tiny counter-current against the recession.  “Companies like PCI are creating potential for economic growth in difficult times”.
A group of local business representatives then joined DeLauro in discussing opportunities for the government to support tech sector job growth.  DeLauro observed that small businesses have historically led the economy out of recessions and provide most new jobs in the economy.
“The SBIR program is terrific”, said Jonathan Gorham, president of Green Media Ventures , referring to the Small Business Investment Research program that provides a fraction of overall government R&D funding to small businesses to develop technology to meet the needs of government agencies, such as DOE and NASA. But the program is threatened by a proposed change that would open the program to subsidiaries of organizations that are currently considered large business.
Regarding the Patent Reform Act currently in congress, PCI president Kevin Burns said flatly: “This is a terrible bill. It will replace first-to-invent with first-to-file”, giving companies with large legal staffs and deep pockets a significant advantage over small companies and individual inventors, He implored DeLauro to support the current system, which protects the rights of the first inventor and the small business.
Jim Boyle, Director of The Yale Entrepreneurial Institute, stressed the importance of transitioning products from conceptualization and development into commercialization.  His program at Yale helps entrepreneurial Yale students start their own companies, often with technology developed in Yale’s laboratories. He said that they had created 90 full time jobs using creative ideas from students. He stressed the need for mentoring young businesses as they get off the ground.
Matthew Nemerson, President of the CT Technology Council, recommended creating “community-wide incubators”—communities of entrepreneurs, academics and technology developers. He claimed that communication barriers between these institutions often inhibit progress, and yet if we encourage these interactions we will be encouraging high quality jobs creation. He encouraged the support of Obama’s “I6 Challenge” (http://www.eda.gov/i6), which awards funding to collaborative groups in an effort to lower these walls.
“Lincoln built the first transcontinental railroad during the Civil War,” DeLauro reminded. “Opponents say we shouldn’t be spending money in this economy. But if we do not make these investments, we will never grow the economy and get the debt down.”
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posted by: HewNaven?? on August 6, 2010  12:11pm

Oh, this is reassuring. This company is building renewable systems to be used by the government and military. Meanwhile, the government and military are in the business of killing people to steal natural resources. Natural resources themselves are rapidly diminishing as they have been for 10,000 years since we started siphoning them from the earth. So, where do we find a big enough mirror to hold up to our ugly selves?

Yes, more jobs means a better economy, but don’t forget that the economy’s best purpose is as a measure of our impact on an ecosystem. As an economy grows, so does the rate of destruction for all living things around it.

If we continue to believe in the endless growth of our economy and the supremacy our species, then we will have purchased a one-way ticket to oblivion. I don’t want to buy that ticket, do you?

posted by: Response to "HewNaven??" on August 6, 2010  3:11pm

HewNaven, that is one of the most pessimistic claims I’ve ever heard.  Complaining is easy.  It’s the people that are actually trying to create solutions that I respect.  Doing something is better than nothing I think in this case—not to say DeLauro has all the right answers. 

Moreover, even if the United States is pilfering resources from other nations, what’s the problem with a company that creates products to allow the U.S. to use those resources in a cleaner more efficient way?  Clean energy is something we can figure out in the relative short-term (unlike some political issues) and every bit of environmentalism helps.

posted by: ROBN on August 8, 2010  4:38pm

ROSA,

Still very disappointed in your knee-jerk reaction against wind turbines in the sound. Teddy K was wrong on this one and you are too. How many Deepwater Horizons will it take to convince you?

posted by: robn on August 8, 2010  4:43pm

ummmm?

I think hydrocarbons form over fairly large geological time scales….like 100s of 1000s of years.

But I get your point.

posted by: Matthew Nemerson on August 9, 2010  7:11pm

I am pretty sure I said “community wide” incubators not “heavy” ones…but there are so many interesting connotations to the word “heavy” that I think I am going to develop a new concept using that term…so thanks Bruce, I’ll let you know what a “heavy incubator” is as soon as I fugure it out.

posted by: Bruce on August 10, 2010  10:31am

Quote has been corrected, but if you use that term I want credit!

posted by: HewNaven?? on August 10, 2010  12:43pm

My point is that if business and political leaders (really the same two-headed beast) continue to pursue sustainability merely as a means toward preserving the current growth paradigm, then we are doomed. The concept of unlimited growth, as embodied by our economy, and our civilization in general, is abhorrent and unnatural. It is self-destructive and masochistic to defend such a system.

Our civilization’s endowments of knowledge in the form of science and technology have given most the false confidence to believe that they are outside of the biological web of life or that they can somehow manipulate it. Until there is a general shift of consciousness from this way of thinking, we will be nowhere near achieving “sustainability” despite how many jobs are created in the process or how many million-dollar contracts are awarded.