Hayes to lead west coast clean economy initiative
By Christina Williams
Editor, Sustainable Business Oregon
Nonprofit partners Rural Development Initiatives and the Center for State Innovation have tapped Gov. John Kitzhaber's domestic partner Cylvia Hayes to run a new program to help states collaborate on policy to support economic development initiatives that promote environmental protection and energy security.
Eugene-based Rural Development Initiatives hired Hayes Feb. 1 to run the West Coast Regional Clean Economy Collaborative and is currently raising money to support an estimated $300,000 annual budget for the program.
"The real vision here is that on the West Coast, Oregon, Washington and California independently have shown some real leadership in clean energy, green building, sustainable agriculture and sustainable forestry policy," Hayes said. "There appears to be an opportunity for the states to link efforts and build some economies of scale around these issues."
Hayes said working for an established organization such as RDI, as opposed to running her own business as she has for the last 13 years, would free up more of her time for the First Lady duties required of her relationship with Kitzhaber.
Craig Smith, executive director of RDI, said he hired Hayes for her experience in clean energy-related economic development and policy work with a focus on rural issues. He said the clean economy collaborative dovetails with RDI's mission of providing economic opportunities for rural communities.
"We really see the benefit in building bridges between urban and rural communities around clean energy," Smith said.
"We don't want anyone to think that we're trying to leverage influence" with the hire of Hayes, Smith added.
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