Master Speaker Session: Green Roadmap: A Model for Equitable Community Development
Tuesday, September 12, 2023
12:30 PM – 1:00 PM PDT
Location: Bellini Ballroom, Level 2, The Venetian
Nearly a century ago, the GM campus in East Buffalo was a regional manufacturing powerhouse that fueled a dynamic local economy. But the campus was eventually abandoned, and the community severely declined, becoming one of the most impoverished zip codes in the nation.
Today, Jon Williams and his company, Viridi, are breathing new life into the East Buffalo community by utilizing the former auto factory to manufacture failsafe carbon-free batteries. By working with community leaders, nonprofits, and residents to adopt a purpose-driven approach to community development, Williams and his team can accurately identify and mitigate the barriers that prevent workers from achieving success, such as lack of transportation, childcare, eldercare, healthcare, and other basic needs. In response, 500 applicants, primarily from this struggling area, currently fill the pipeline for Viridi’s cleantech training and skills program, which is experiencing a 90% successful completion rate.
During this keynote address, Williams will share his strategies for implementing scalable workforce and community development programs that advance the energy transition while revitalizing communities from within to provide much-needed services and avoid the displacement that usually comes with gentrification.