Since 1902, Chevron has been a vital part of the local community, creating jobs and supporting small businesses that power the local economy, paying taxes that fund public services and supporting programs that improve the quality of life for local residents.
Chevron is Richmond's largest taxpayer, and our local operations have paid hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes over the past five years to the city of Richmond and Contra Costa County, providing critical funding for police officers and fire fighters, schools, libraries and youth services.
We also play a central role driving economic growth in Richmond. With more than 2,300 employees and 1,600 contactors working at our facilities in Richmond, we are by far the city's largest employer.
Since 2009, we have invested more than $300 million in the community to support important issues such as improving the education our kids get in local schools and growing small businesses through our social investment and procurement programs.
We also recognize that Richmond needs to find new ways to bring jobs to our city by encouraging growth and innovation through the development of new technologies and research. We're playing a significant role in developing the next generation of energy innovations at the Chevron Richmond Technology Center, a world-class energy research campus located adjacent to our refinery.
The 1.2 million-square-foot research campus employs more than 170 Ph.D. scientists among its 1,200-member workforce. These workers come from around the world to be part of a team developing new, fuel-efficient transportation products and exploring renewable and alternative energies including biofuels, solar and geothermal power.
We believe it is important to invest in virtually every facet of the energy industry, from renewable energies to crude oil.
We want to continue to invest in our operations and are moving forward with plans to modernize our facilities to create a newer, safer, cleaner refinery that is better for the community while creating 1,000 construction jobs. By replacing older equipment with newer technologies, we will improve our environmental performance -- reducing overall air emissions at the refinery and improving air quality in Richmond.
The majority of Richmond residents support our balanced approach to making the refinery safer, protecting the environment and creating jobs.
Unfortunately, a small minority of critics, such as Dr. Jeff Ritterman, along with the Richmond Progressive Alliance and Oakland-based Communities for a Better Environment, don't want us to modernize our facility.
While Dr. Ritterman claims to want to have a dialogue with us, what he really wants is for us to "cease to exist," and he is pursuing this aim at the expense of the larger Richmond community. These critics, and their global agenda against fossil fuels, are going to cost Richmond a modernized refinery, along with 1,000 jobs.
We remain dedicated to this community, and we believe the best path forward is through greater cooperation, understanding and openness.
We believe it is in the best interest of the city and the community to work with us to permit a newer, safer, cleaner refinery that is better for the community. At least this is what I would like to tell Dr. Ritterman -- if he were willing to listen.
Kory Judd is general manager of the Chevron Richmond Refinery.