George Hershman

Occupation: Senior Vice President, General Manager
Company: Swinerton Renewable Energy
Location: San Diego

Swinerton is an engineering, procurement, and construction company based in San Diego, with solar projects in 14 states and Canada. George has worked at Swinerton for nearly 20 years and launched the company’s renewable energy business in 2008.

“It’s really a wide range of people that get hired into this industry, everybody from certified and licensed engineers to those who first learned about a solar project when we were building one in their area. Our approach with a typical project is to travel with about 10 or 15 people and then hire 300 or 400 people locally to build the site. We set about an 80 percent threshold for local hires because we believe very strongly that these projects need to support their communities. In some areas where the market is consolidated, they could work for us and then move on to another company, effectively having full-time employment for the full year. And some of the same people that we hired to build the plant will likely stay on and manage the plant.”

“These are tough sites out in fairly remote areas, either way too hot in the summer or way too cold in the winter. For construction jobs, we provide the training; what you need is a good attitude and a willingness to learn. A great aspect of this business is it isn’t an exclusionary trade. It’s a teachable job that can create opportunity for people and give them a skill. It’s also very much an economic boom for a lot of areas where this many jobs don’t come around very often.”