A true sign that a movement has taken hold is significant investment in it.

It probably comes as no surprise to hear that the green energy industry’s future is a bright one. With the effects of global warming leading to increasingly strong storms, more extreme temperatures, and occasional wide-scale destruction, the importance of reducing carbon emissions and focusing on renewable energy sources is more obvious than ever.

This fact is driving politicians and policymakers to take action. The state of Illinois is doing just that, recently announcing a new revolving equity fund that will produce $4.6 million in funding for early-stage clean energy production in the state. The investment is an unprecedented step at the state level, demonstrating a collective commitment to sustainability that should reap significant benefits.

The green energy industry has already seen substantial gains and innovation within its ranks, as renewable tools like solar panels rapidly bolster their efficiency and offer energy providers compelling financial incentives to incorporate them as large parts of their energy offerings. With increased funding, especially steady funding like that made available in Illinois’ equity fund, that innovation should only increase. In both the private and public sectors

The $4.6 million will come half from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and half from the Clean Energy Trust, ensuring a necessary diversity in the holdings and revenue source. It will largely be directed toward creating new clean-energy startups and jobs in the form of $100,000 to $500,000 notes to new green businesses working in the areas of smart grid, next-generation transportation, renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Perhaps best of all, returns generated by these businesses will be reinvested strictly in the state’s new clean energy startups, providing strong incentives for success and going directly to the businesses that innovate the most.

With already 97,000 residents employed in the green energy industry statewide, Illinois’ investment cements its place among the elite of sustainable states.