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Gov. Pritzker announces investment to create over 1,000 solar energy jobs on Chicago's South, West sides

State of Illinois announces $30 million investment in clean energy jobs
State of Illinois announces $30 million investment in clean energy jobs 02:40

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker on Tuesday announced a new Climate Works investment of $30 million for clean energy jobs on Chicago's South and West sides.

The investment is meant to build the clean energy workforce while creating job opportunities in low-income communities. It seeks to create more than 1,000 jobs in the solar energy field over the next three years.

"From day one of my administration, I've worked with stakeholders and the general assembly to put green jobs at the center of our economic revitalization," Pritzker said.

The state is making a commitment to solar energy job training on partnership with Chicago's 548 Foundation—a nonprofit dedicated to developing affordable housing and providing energy upgrades.

"Climate Works will provide participants with the direct hands-on resources that they need to build a career in the clean energy trades," Pritzker said.

Pritzker announced the plan at the Fillmore Linen Service plant, at 4144 W. Fillmore St. on the city's West Side. The health care linen provider's plant will be the next commercial building in Chicago to be powered by solar energy—with panels and technology installed.

The man behind those soon-to-be-installed solar panels—and behind the upcoming training of more than 1,000 new workers—is A.J. Patton, founder and chief executive officer of the 548 Foundation.

"The climate crisis impacts low-income communities the hardest," Patton said.

Patton says the partnership with the state is about more than sustainable job opportunities.

"Historically, when there's new technology being brought to the market, disinvested communities don't get access to those economic opportunities," he said.

The goal is to promote economic justice in the neighborhoods most impacted by climate change in Chicago.

"We created this platform just for that purpose—to serve as a bridge to train people up so they can have access to those jobs," Patton said.

With this investment being called the next step in the state's renewable energy plan, Gov. Pritzker was asked about the goal he set through the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act—which calls for 100% clean energy in Illinois by 2050.

"I think we have a good shot at actually hitting 2050, and that was what that bill was all about," Pritzker said. "We're actually in one of the best positions to be able to achieve that. Let's start with 53 to 54% of our power comes from a clean energy source already—and that's our nuclear reactors." 

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