First African American-owned Solar Manufacturer Creates Local Jobs in Anacostia

When Mark Davis started his career, he didn’t know that he would one day become a key player in America’s growing green economy. 

Davis was running a successful information company in Washington, D.C., when he started to think about the environment and the importance of clean energy. In 2009, he started a solar energy company, WDC Solar. Today, he is opening a solar panel manufacturing plant in the D.C. neighborhood of Anacostia, and creating high quality jobs for local residents, who face some of the highest rates of unemployment in the area. The plant will be the first African American-owned solar manufacturer in the U.S.

Davis says he got into solar power because he cared about the environment and felt it was simply the right thing to do.

And the power of clean energy to help humans became very clear to him in 2010, after a devastating earthquake hit Haiti. His company, WDC Solar, worked with ARCH trainees to put together “solar suitcases” with portable electrical systems that could be used to power orphanages, hospitals, and other critical facilities in the wake of the disaster.

Training local workers is a big priority for Davis—and a big challenge. Obtaining funding for training programs is extremely difficult, so much so that he’s funded many training programs with his own money, training dozens of people over the years.  He hopes to train many more residents of the community, which is predominantly African American.

WDC Solar has made it a priority to invest in a new generation of solar champions—the company teaches workers to install solar panels, including on low-income family housing in D.C.  Participants earn valuable experience—they’ve helped install solar panels on twenty homes in less than two months, and have installed several systems on commercial buildings. Through efforts like this, Mark Davis and WDC Solar are doing more than fighting climate change—they’re transforming communities.

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