Bringing economic development to those who need it most

It’s no secret that many Americans live in communities that need new economic development—we saw this play a huge role in the last election.

Americans on both sides of the aisle agree that everyone should have an opportunity for economic prosperity. The path to achieving this, though, has been widely debated. Politicians have suggested increasing the minimum wage, instituting a more progressive tax code, and investing in education, to name a few ideas. Yet, most overlook the role of energy.

Wind power is an incredible tool to address gaps in economic development.

For example, about 70 percent of wind farms are located in low-income counties. This brings new jobs, income, and taxes to areas that need it most. Over the last few decades, many manufacturing and technical jobs have been outsourced. This leaves few employment opportunities for non-professionals in the less urban parts of the country.

This is unfortunate, and it needs to be addressed to ensure young people have a chance for prosperity.

Fortunately, wind technician and wind manufacturing jobs offer opportunities for good-paying careers in places that have seen other options disappear. In fact, wind turbine technician is the fastest growing job in the nation.

Just look to Wyoming, where wind turbine-manufacturer Goldwind is offering free technician training to fill open positions. It’s specifically geared towards coal miners, and those from other industries who are struggling to find work. These workers have particularly relevant skillsets from their previous jobs.

If you’re a wind technician, you obviously can’t be afraid of heights,” said David Halligan, Goldwind Americas chief executive. “You have to be able to work at heights, and you have to be able to work at heights in a safe manner.”

Even areas without wind farms still offer jobs—more than 500 U.S. factories across 41 states build wind-related parts.

Furthermore, wind energy projects pay more than $245 million annually via lease payments to local landowners, like farmers and ranchers. This increases property tax revenues within these communities, prompting investment in local schools, libraries and hospitals—benefiting people of all socioeconomic backgrounds.

Overall, wind energy is an unexpected, yet effective way to spread economic prosperity to communities across the country.