LA, MA and NC budgets support innovation, tech-based development
Proposed state budgets in Louisiana, Massachusetts and North Carolina show support for innovation and higher education, with some states better positioned in their levels of support while some programs are experiencing cuts. North Carolina unveiled new programs supporting a variety of tech-based economic development initiatives, while Louisiana is restoring full funding for its state scholarships for residents despite its budget deficit.
Despite facing a $440 million budget deficit, Gov. John Bel Edwards presented a FY 2017-2018 budget proposal calling for $209.4 million for the TOPS program (Taylor Opportunity Program for Students) – a program of state scholarships for Louisiana residents who attend any of the Louisiana public colleges and universities or the Louisiana Community and Technical College system. This commitment would restore the TOPS program to full-.
While the TOPS program is slated for full funding, eight of the state’s technical and community colleges (LCTCS) intend to merge campuses after facing 16 state budget cuts over the last eight years. Due to this declining trend of state support for the two-year higher education institutions, the LCTCS board approved the shuffling and consolidation of its campuses to colleges with stronger finances starting July 1 with the hope of linking or consolidating campuses that have similar locales, economies, and workforce training needs. No LCTCS campuses will close, but re-assigning the colleges and satellite campuses could save the system about $10 million annually.
To support startup growth, the Louisiana Department of Economic Development (LED) would receive $7.5 million for State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI), which funds the Small Business Loan Guarantee and Louisiana Seed Capital programs that support small business lending.
Within LED’s agency request, activities that would be supported include:
- $200,000 for the Louisiana Business Incubation Support program - to support incubators in their mission of creating, developing and mentoring small businesses in the state;
- $675,673 for the Small and Emerging Business Development – to provide funds for assisting certified small and emerging businesses by providing managerial and/or developmental assistance and technical assistance which includes entrepreneurial training and other specialized assistance to businesses; and,
- $1 million for the Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) – to provide management assistance and business counseling to Louisiana small businesses.
The state also would provide $1.6 million in funding for the state economic competitiveness benchmarking, planning and research initiative which focuses on economic development strategy and planning by benchmarking state public policies (business taxes, incentives, workforce programs, worker's compensation, etc.)
Healthcare and fiscal responsibility are the focal points of Gov. Charlie Baker’s proposed $40.5 billion FY 2018 budget, however he proposed funding for technology based and education initiatives as well.
The Massachusetts Technology Collaborative would receive $2.1 million in FY 2018 for its programs. Examples of specific line items funded in FY 2017 that are not included in the governor’s proposed FY 2018 budget are MTC programs for technology and innovation entrepreneurship ($1.5 million in FY 2017) and computer science education ($1.7 million in FY 2017). MTC’s Entrepreneur in Residence pilot program would receive $100,000 in the proposed budget, the same amount it received in FY 2017. The program offers “candidates on nonimmigrant visas the opportunity to remain in the commonwealth to pursue practical training in entrepreneurship,” according to the governor’s line item summary.
Two notable initiatives would receive funding for health-related research and development. The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, an investment agency that supports life sciences innovation, would receive $10 million in FY 2018 from the state’s consolidated net surplus. The Massachusetts Biotechnology Research Institute would receive $250,000 to commercialize academic-based R&D and raise scientific awareness in the state.
After receiving $338,000 in FY 2017, the governor’s budget proposal does not include any funding for the Massachusetts Technology Transfer Center. The Small Business Development Center at UMass would receive $1.2 million in FY 2018, no change from FY 2017.
New programs announced by the governor include:
- A $4 million "Learn to Earn" initiative, which would offer training assistance to unemployed and underemployed individuals around high-demand fields; and,
- A tax credit for small businesses hiring unemployed veterans (a $2,000 tax credit in the year the veteran is hired, and another $2,000 for retaining the employee after one year).
In August 2016, the governor signed an extensive economic development bill into law that included items such as $71 million for the Massachusetts Manufacturing Innovation Initiative, $15 million for the Scientific and Technology Research Development Matching Grant Fund, $15 million for the Community Innovation Infrastructure Fund, and an angel investor tax credit.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper’s proposed $23.4 billion FY 2017-2019 biennial budget includes support for a variety of tech-based economic development initiatives. Areas proposed to receive funding include programs conducting innovative research, funds for two Manufacturing USA Institutes, identifying and developing technologies with commercial potential, the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, state matching dollars for SBIR and STTR awards, scholarship and workforce activities, and expanding broadband access.
Funding is included for two research centers affiliated with North Carolina State University that have considerable federal and private support. The governor’s proposed budget would appropriate $3.6 million in new funding over the biennium for the Food Processing Innovation Center, and $4 million in new funding over the biennium for The National Institute for Innovation in Manufacturing Biopharmaceuticals, a part of the Manufacturing USA Network. The budget does not fund the university system’s request for $20 million over the biennium to expand medical schools at UNC-Chapel Hill and East Carolina University, according to The Herald Sun.
Among other items in the governor’s proposed budget are:
- NC Invents, a new program to assist universities with identifying and developing technologies with commercial potential, would receive $10 million.
- The Cancer Research Fund at UNC-Chapel Hill would receive $20 million in each year of the biennium (25 percent increase from FY 2016-2017).
- The UNC Research Opportunities Initiative, which provides funding for innovative university-based research projects that support the state’s economic development activities around prioritized industries (e.g., advanced manufacturing, marine and coastal science, pharmacoengineering, data sciences) would receive $5 million in each year of the biennium (66 percent increase from FY 2016-2017).
- The North Carolina Biotechnology Center would receive $13.6 million in each year of the biennium (no change from FY 2016-2017).
- The Office of Science, Technology, and Innovation’s One NC Small Business Fund, which provides matching dollars for SBIR and STTR recipients, would receive $3 million in nonrecurring funding over the biennium (no change from FY 2016-2017).
- Beginning in FY 2018-19, the budget would authorize the NC Promise Tuition Plan at $51 million. This plan would reduce tuition costs for in-state undergraduate students to $500 per semester at select four-year universities.
- The governor also proposes the creation of NC GROW (Getting Ready for Opportunities and the Workforce) Scholarship beginning in FY 2018-19. Using $19.4 million from lottery funds, this scholarship would cover all tuition and required fees at community colleges for recent high school graduates.
- $3 million in new funding during each year of the biennium for grants supporting industry-focused workforce development training at community colleges.
- $20 million in new funding over the biennium to increase broadband access to underserved households, businesses, and community anchor institutions in the state.