With its economy tanking, Newton, Iowa, decided to reinvent itself as a center for green jobs. The town once relied on the Maytag Corporation for some 4,000 jobs, before its competitor Whirlpool bought the company in 2006, and cut some 1,800 jobs. Residents and local government officials decided to aggressively court renewable energy companies to inject some economic life back into the town.
Today “Newton has become something of a green-collar hub,” Audubon reports. One company that makes wind turbine blades for General Electric now employs some 318 people in the town, and hopes to bump that up to 500 by the end of the year. A biodiesel plant and another GE contractor moved into the town, too. According to Audubon, Newton’s success gives the lie to the split between the environment versus the economy that many politicians promote. Barack Obama, in fact, used the town to promote his green jobs plan when he visited there on Earth Day. Obama is quoted by Audubon, saying, “The choice we face is not between saving our environment and saving our economy. The choice is between prosperity and decline.”