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    Capitals of Clean

    Regions vie for clean tech crown

    Several months after The New York Times ran its piece , on May 24th, the Wall Street Journal offered its own take on Silicon Valley's drive to become the clean technology capital.

    Although not news anymore, WSJ writers Pui-Wing Tam and Jim Carlton authored a more balanced piece on the subject.

    NYT slanted its piece as if Silicon Valley's dominance is a foregone conclusion, but WSJ clearly spelled out the Valley has plenty of competition: particularly from Austin, Texas. Even citing a study by an independent research firm, SustainLane, in San Francisco ranking Silicon Valley, gasp, #2 behind Austin. (Click here for Google Map.)

    The story was also more detailed, honing in on San Jose (the 1M person capital of Silicon Valley) and its efforts to lure a start-up solar power company called Nanosolar, Inc. Salient points: San Jose city officials scouted sites for a 647,000 s.f. building to save Nanosolar on real estate broker fees, offered expedited permits, and provided a $1.5 million grant to be used to retrain local workers. All of that to attract a facility that will create 200 jobs, which will hopefully grow.

    Still, the article points out that San Jose is an expensive place to startup a business: average salaries are twice the national average ($66,200 v. $37,870) and other items, such as electricity costs, are high. However, there's plenty of money thanks to VC-extraordinaire John Doerr of KleinerPerkins, who's pushing clean tech. (Check out the excellent new Portfolio magazine for a profile of Doerr's efforts. Money quote: “When you get into energy, you’re going up against Exxon and Chevron and cattlemen and corn.”) And local techies like Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page are putting their own money into outfits, such as Nanosolar (which has raised $100M to date).

    So far, reports the article, San Jose has 22 firms involved in researching and producing clean tech, an 83% jump from last year. One of which, SunPower Corp., has 300 employees and plans to double that workforce by the end of 2007. Austin, however, claims 50 such companies.

    Other top spots for clean tech, according to SustainLane, include: Berkely, CA; Pasadena, CA; Boston, MA; and runners-up San Francisco, New York, Seattle, San Diego, and Houston. GEO


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