• WisBusiness

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

One year later: An update on my E4 Initiative


By Russ Feingold
One year ago, I introduced my E4 Initiative -- dubbed E4 for its focus on Economy, Employment, Education, and Energy -- as a way to create jobs and enhance our economy by harnessing Wisconsin's unique strengths and resources. I am pleased to report significant victories this past year, and I will continue to push my initiative to help Wisconsin businesses lead the way, nationally and globally, in addressing emerging challenges.

In an ever-changing economy, it is crucial to invest in green energy and support energy efficient projects in Wisconsin. Earlier this year, one of my E4 provisions to do just that was included in the economic stimulus package. This measure will boost job growth, increase energy efficiency, and help businesses and homeowners go green by expanding the types of projects that are eligible for the Qualified Energy Conservation Bond (QECB) program.

I have heard from business leaders and others across Wisconsin about the tremendous potential for energy efficiency retrofits to generate more green-collar jobs. This provision will help programs that make energy efficiency upgrades in homes and buildings, similar to Milwaukee's proposed Me2 program, at a time when we need jobs the most.

More recently, the Senate passed one of my E4 provisions to help small businesses, the backbone of Wisconsin's economy. Passed as part of a bill reauthorizing the Small Business Innovation Research Act (SBIR), my measure will prioritize federal research funding for energy, water quality, domestic security and transportation projects--top national priorities where Wisconsin has a strategic advantage.

Wisconsin has numerous small businesses, universities and other research institutions that work on these critical national priorities, and my E4 SBIR legislation will spur small business innovation while fueling job creation. In addition, I was pleased to support an overall boost in federal funding for the SBIR program, ensuring small businesses remain the engines that drive our economy.

One year later, there's been important progress on my E4 Initiative, but there is still much work to be done. In the coming months, I plan to introduce another component of my E4 legislation, namely a bill to improve how we measure household economic well-being, which will help us develop economic policies that better serve the needs of average Americans. I also hope to see progress on my bill to allow the U.S. Forest Service to partner with universities and private entities to test new technology for the development and commercialization of advanced biofuels.

These are just a few of the ways that the E4 Initiative can help small business, support job growth in the green energy sector, strengthen workforce development, and build new education partnerships among our communities, high schools and businesses. Wisconsin is at a critical juncture, and I will do all I can to see our state is on the leading edge of the 21st century economy.

-- Feingold, a Democrat, is one of Wisconsin's two U.S. senators.

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