Interesting development in the world of international business and Cleveland:
Apparently, we are adding new and efficient lighting to our city, and with it, new jobs. Cleveland officials have been looking for ways to make this a cleaner and greener city. Mayor Jackson has often said that the way to revive our economy would be through greener technologies and new industry. So, I was thrilled to find out that we are taking a nice step forward in that direction. A new contract is in the works that could have HUGE impacts on the region. We are going to replace the lighting being used by the city with new LED lighting. This will reduce our carbon footprint by over 25,000 tons-in streetlights alone. In addition, it will save the city some big bucks on its electricity bill. The LED lighting in City Hall alone will add up to over half a million dollars over the life of the bulbs. We will have price guarantees that we will get all our products at or below the price of competitors. While this is all well and good, it is at this point that things start to get really interesting.
The deal that has been penned will have impacts on the local economy. First off, we will be pursuing a company that is based overseas. While GE is right here in NE Ohio, they do not offer enough LED products that Cleveland needs. Instead, we will be buying from a company called Sunpu-Opto. The deal will include establishing a new US headquarters in Cleveland, and a manufacturing plant that will produce these products right here and put Clevelanders to work. In fact, they expect the hiring process to begin before the end of June and over 3-5 years we will be adding 350 jobs to the local economy. Of course, as LED technology spreads across the country, who knows how big the facility might grow. We don’t know just how big an impact this could have locally, as Sunpu-Opto has agreed to source as many parts and pieces as it can locally.
This approach is the most forward thinking that I have seen in Cleveland since we moved here a decade ago. Cleveland is not going to offer grants or tax abatements. Instead, it is going to use the time honored tradition of using its buying power to get what it needs. The city needs lights, and if they are going to switch to more efficient products anyway, they are going to use the contract that they pen to get jobs and industry right here in our economy. At the same time, we are leveraging our assets of low cost property and a strong workforce to entice a new company that needs a US headquarters. How long this has been going on behind the scenes, I don’t know, but I can’t wait to hear what is next! Here is a portion of the email that I got:
At last year’s summit, Mayor Jackson outlined the need to take bold steps to change the way we do business if we are going to take advantage of the sustainable economy. Over the past few months the City of Cleveland has been advancing a new business model that embodies triple bottom line thinking. We have outlined a path forward that will benefit the City of Cleveland’s economy, reduce its expenditures on electricity and reduce our carbon footprint by aggressively moving forward with an LED lighting program. We are doing this by utilizing the City’s purchasing power to push innovation towards the future. Mayor Jackson has proposed a 10-year contract with Sunpu-Opto, an international company that creates LED lighting products. Sunpu-Opto will make substantial investments in our local economy by establishing a U.S. headquarters in Cleveland and creating green collar jobs. This is an exciting step for the City of Cleveland and one giant step forward in creating an economic engine that empowers a green city on a blue lake.
I want to encourage you to get engaged on this important topic and initiative. LED lighting is the lighting choice of the future and it is important that we move aggressively forward towards a path that will position Cleveland and our region to take full advantage of this new technology.
Then there is another little bit for us in Cleveland. Clevelanders will be able to buy these LED lights at the same price as the city does. That means that we can ALL start saving on our electric bills, just like Cleveland does. At the same time, we can lessen our carbon footprint and reduce our environmental impact. And as a final note, they are mercury free and the LED florescent tubes use recycled plastic. Good news for those of us concerned with mercury in the environment.
My hat comes off to everyone involved in this proposal, especially to Mayor Jackson and Andrew Watterson of the Office of Sustainability. With this kind of leadership, we can truly become a successful Green City on a Blue Lake!