To the editor:
My job is to bring in business to Alexandria Industries’ renewable energy market. When our 300 employees in Alexandria are humming along and work is busy – I feel great about what I’m doing. When I can’t make this happen, I know people’s livelihoods are at stake.
Within 48 hours of many states announcing stay-at-home orders to slow the spread of COVID-19, calls from our renewable energy customers started rolling in with order cancellations and delays. It was like turning off a faucet.
Renewable energy represents approximately 10% of Alexandria Industries’ aluminum extrusion and manufacturing business capacity. (We create solar racking for the fast-growing solar energy industry.) Because of our connections to the clean energy industry – I have watched the industry closely over the years – we saw solar related jobs in Minnesota grow 2.5 times faster than the state’s overall job growth several years in a row. In fact, new data from the Clean Jobs Midwest Report shows that growth continued in 2019.
But the effects of COVID-19 have chilled the clean energy sector. Since March, Minnesota has lost more than 11,500 clean energy workers, about 18% of its workforce. While these numbers are dismal, I remain hopeful.
For years, clean energy has been a growth industry for the state and the country, and I see it playing a vital role in Minnesota’s economic recovery. Pre-COVID-19, the state had more than 61,800 clean energy workers. More importantly, one out of three of those jobs is located in Greater Minnesota. That matters to me, and to many people who call places like Alexandria home.
Our hope is that the politicians representing Minnesota and the industrious people who live and work here will continue to support growing our renewable energy industry.