Sun's experience speaks to one of NYC ACRE's goals, says Micah Kotch, the incubator's operations director. "You want to start people out at an intern level where they're going to be able to get their hands somewhat dirty," he says. "So if you can get a kid to intern with a small start-up company, he can come out of school potentially with his own idea and create his own company."

Helping to graduate green-savvy students bolsters NYC ACRE's dual mandate. "One is to help young start-up companies grow," Kotch says. The second is "to really help develop a sector." One impetus for NYC ACRE, he says, was a 2007 report by the New York City Investment Fund (NYCIF), an arm of the Partnership for New York City that seeks to boost future business. The clean technology, or cleantech, sector saw $7.6 billion in venture capital invested in it in 2008, according to a report by The NYCIF report warned that if New York didn't do something to encourage cleantech here, it was at risk of losing out on its share of those types of investments, as well as the jobs and tax revenue they create. Through its green programs, the city is looking to increase that number by 13,000 jobs, basically doubling green employment here by 2020.

"The green economy plan as a whole is focused on growing other industries," says Economic Development Corporation spokesperson Vivian Liao. Rather, the goal is to promote entrepreneurship, to help new companies along, and "see the city as a place to grow their business."

Scott Vincent

"We really can't avoid the move toward a green economy," says Leigh Pasqual, spokesperson for Urban Agenda, a public policy group that has developed its own roadmap to boost green jobs here. "Creating the connection between green and sustainable economic growth is critical for New York City."

James Parrott of the economic watchdog Fiscal Policy Institute agrees, though he cautions that it's going to take bigger economic changes to "get us out of the deep hole we're in."

"Universities need to gear up for the growing need to train workers," Parrott says. "But it's not a panacea."

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