SBO Award Winners 2013: Drive Oregon, pedal to the metal
By Andy Giegerich
Sustainable Business Oregon editor
Drive Oregon Executive Director Jeff Allen rallies the crowd at the EV Roadmap 6 July 30.
Editor's note: To mark last week's SBO Innovation in Sustainability Awards, we're posting the full stories — including bonus content — that ran in our special publication on our website. To purchase copies of the publication itself, please contact Bill Berninger at email@example.com.
It’s unbelievable that Drive Oregon has only been around for two years.
The group is, quite simply, the driving force behind the state’s innovation in electric mobility. It connects governmental leaders with entrepreneurs as it promotes, supports and fortifies Oregon’s electric mobility industry. The sector already provides thousands of family-wage jobs in several realms related to infrastructure, components, specialized vehicles and support services.
And in just 24 months, the group’s name has become synonymous with the state’s growing influence in the electric vehicle world. Executive Director Jeff Allen describes himself as a “recovering environmentalist” who is working to help build businesses that will transform our transportation system as much as the smartphone has transformed communications.
“Nobody uses typewriters any more: Why do we put up with vehicle and energy technologies that are even more outdated?” Allen asks.
It’s a good question. And for Allen’s team, it’ll be answered as Oregon continues to develop sound policies and as Drive Oregon itself continues to advocate for the industry.
Still, while those components are critical, new products, technologies and business models are what change environmental outcomes.
To that end, Drive Oregon landed a $150,000 grant earlier this year to study how e-bikes can provide what Allen calls “a first/last mile commuting solution” for Kaiser Permanente employees on Portland’s east side. The study will ascertain how well 30 folding electric-assist bicycles, or e-bikes, can deliver workers to three designated work sites.
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