Meet Climate Champion Gary Simon, Sacramento's clean tech mentor
Gary Simon has been building the region’s clean technology ecosystem since 2005, when he founded CleanStart, a nonprofit that connects companies with investors and advice, promotes the region’s clean-tech economy, and educates clean-tech business leaders.
Leaders like Simon are crucial to the effort to spur the creation and growth of new companies in the clean tech sector, one of Mayor Darrell Steinberg’s top priorities.
Today, Oct. 9, Simon is hosting the Central Valley Clean Tech Showcase, gathering clean tech companies from throughout Northern California to showcase their solutions and look ahead to more employment and investment growth.
He estimates that clean tech companies in the region generated $2.1 billion in revenue in 2017, an increase of 223 percent from $650 million in 2008. One hundred clean technology companies now operate in the region, according to CleanStart, nearly double the number it counted here in 2007.
Simon said small clean tech companies here receive crucial support from entities such as the Sacramento Municipal Utility District, the California Energy Commission, the California Public Utilities Commission, UC Davis, the University of the Pacific and local economic development agencies.
He sees the region as a natural for clean tech firms because of its proximity to the Silicon Valley, relatively affordable cost of living, access to state regulators and policy makers and potential funding from state programs.
"Enduring change to save the planet comes when people can make money from doing the right things," Simon said. "CleanStart was founded to help people create businesses to do that--and it's working."
CleanStart’s most recent training focused on social equity, disadvantaged groups and clean tech startups, reinforcing the goal of inclusive economic development, also a priority for Mayor Steinberg and the city.