In a new report on the clean-energy efforts of 10 chambers of commerce throughout the nation, the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce is described as a powerhouse in terms of its recruitment of clean-tech companies.
The report, introduced May 15 by Chambers for Innovation and Clean Energy, examined chambers of commerce that are attracting, supporting and diversifying their local economies with projects involving clean energy and energy efficiency.
The chamber's work with the city, Austin Energy and The University of Texas have strengthened Austin's clean-technology industry, said Jose Beceiro, the chamber's director of clean energy economic development. The chamber also encourages the local business community to advocate for clean-energy policies.
"What we're starting to get recognized for is the collaborative effort we have in tying research to the private sector and job creation, and it all ties back to economic development," he said.
Beceiro said clean tech involves leveraging core tech industries—software, computers and semiconductors—and applying their new, advanced technologies to the energy infrastructure. The local industry includes businesses working on solar and wind energy, smart grids, electric vehicles and batteries, he said.
The chamber has recruited 20 clean-tech companies to date, according to the report, which states that the growth of clean-tech jobs here now rivals that of San Francisco. Beceiro said Pecan Street Inc., a research consortium on smart grid technologies that the chamber co-founded in 2009, has anchored the industry. Through the group's flagship smart-grid research project, Pecan Street Demonstration, smart-grid companies can test their technology in Austin's Mueller community.
"The things that Pecan Street is doing right now on smart-grid tech development, energy management systems and beta-testing technologies within homes and businesses [are] really huge and advancing the smart-grid industry, and I think that's something that's really unique to Austin's clean-tech industry," he said.
The full report and the Austin chamber case study is available online at www.chambersforinnovation.com/changeagents.