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2018 gubernatorial candidates’ positions on TBED

September 27, 2018

With the close of the primaries, the 36 gubernatorial elections are now taking shape. November’s election will see at least 18 new governors as those seats were term-limited, the incumbent was not seeking reelection, or did not win the primary.  In each of the 36 races, SSTI has reviewed the major party candidates’ positions relating to technology-based economic development and here outlines what those candidates have revealed on topics touching the field. If a candidate is not covered, it is because we were unable to discern specific positions or proposals involving creating a better future through science, technology, innovation and entrepreneurship.

Common themes in 2018 gubernatorial candidates’ positions include free tuition for some years of post-secondary education, expanded broadband access, addressing lagging rural economies, and apprenticeship and redesigned workforce development efforts.


Walt Maddox, the Democratic candidate, wants to develop a “New Covenant between our leaders in Montgomery and the people they serve.” This ‘New Covenant’ would focus heavily on job creation and economic development efforts by investing in workforce training and development to address the needs of the 21st century economy, making college affordable, and providing all Alabamians with an opportunity to be career and/or college ready. If elected, Maddox also proposes to expand pre-K across the state and create statewide scholarships for higher education/workforce development. Maddox would work to create a state lottery program to fund his proposed workforce development and education efforts. Maddox contends a statewide lottery would contribute the $300 million necessary to the help fund the creation of a 21st century workforce.


In his bid for re-election, Governor Bill Walker (I) touts his stewardship of the state through the difficulties of the last four years (falling revenues, budget cuts) and what was begun under his tenure — the passage of a major restructuring of the state's finances measure, which included the Permanent Fund appropriation plan. He pledges to finish that fiscal restructuring, by keeping in place the legislature approved Permanent Fund appropriation plan and building a fuller fiscal plan around that foundation, while restoring business confidence. In an effort to lead new investment in the state and lift the economy, the governor has suggested using a small percentage of the Permanent Fund (approx. 1 percent) to assist Alaska business startups.

Mark Begich, the Democratic candidate, advocates creating a stable regulatory environment to encourage investments in Alaska that would result in long-term economic stability and growth. He wants to diversify the state's economic portfolio while focusing on natural resource development, as well as other industries such as tourism, healthcare and finance; and seeks to identify and support new industries with the potential for long-term growth, such as renewable energy and small micro-businesses. His platform calls for prioritizing workforce development and training Alaskans for the state's expanding industries, rather than importing skills from the lower 48.


Republican incumbent Gov. Doug Ducey is seeking a second term. When elected in 2014, he promised to shrink government and grow Arizona's economy. His plan was to eliminate unnecessary regulations, simplify the state's tax code, and recruit businesses from surrounding states or from states with higher tax rates or regulatory burdens. During his tenure, Ducey says he has reduced the size of government by consolidating agencies, has cut over 700 regulations (the equivalent of a $50 million tax reduction), and reformed and simplified the tax codes. Additionally, the state has fully recovered all jobs lost during the Great Recession, and Arizona added an additional 240,000 new jobs since 2015. The governor also touts the more than 300 companies that have relocated their businesses to the state. In his bid for a second term, Ducey promises to build upon those achievements. 

Former state education official David Garcia, the Democratic candidate, promises a fair economy for Arizona by investing in diverse businesses and workplace equality, with a focus on elimination of poverty wages through the creation of good jobs. Garcia advocates for dependable high-speed internet access across the state, seeks a clean energy economy that will attract manufacturing and energy intensive industries to Arizona, and promotes the state as a solar super power that could bring advanced jobs and local innovation to the state. In order for this to happen, Garcia says that the state needs a larger and better-trained workforce, which requires the state to work or partner with the private sector and labor partners to identify skills and education needed to support these industries. Garcia argues that Arizona must move to a more diversified economy. He seeks to implement a sector-based strategy that will drive investment, growth and jobs in aerospace, biosciences, cybersecurity, energy, defense, optics and photonics. Garcia supports a competitive and dynamic workforce. In order to develop a high-skilled, high-wage economy, he would bring education and industry together to identify and develop the training necessary to provide a talent pipeline. As part of the partnership, Garcia is advocating for universal community college for all Arizonans seeking a degree or certificate, and that the certificate or an Associates' degree be completed in two years.


Republican incumbent Gov. Asa Hutchinson is seeking a second term. When elected in 2014, he promised to implement a number of workforce–oriented initiatives to better connect Arkansas' education system with employer needs. The governor also pledged to develop a computer science curriculum with statewide technology leaders to be implemented in the state's public schools. His campaign says some of his largest education achievements involved ensuring 100 percent broadband connectivity for the state's K-12 schools; the implementation of the ArFuture Grant program, which provides up to two years of tuition and fees at a publicly funded Arkansas community or technical college to students who enroll in either a high-demand field or a STEM-related field; and his 2015 computer science initiative, which allows computer science to count towards graduation credit in lieu of math or science, the training of hundreds of teachers, and the participation of students in computer coding classes through Virtual Arkansas, an online course. Additionally, the initiative also involved the state's development of K-8 computer standards. Running on this record, Hutchinson's bid for a second term, entitled "Asa's Plan" involves five key points, including tax cuts and more efficient government.

The Democratic candidate, Jared Henderson, is an executive director and senior vice president of a national nonprofit that focuses on public education. His platform, entitled  "Rethinking Government in the 21st Century," seeks to build an education system to prepare the state for jobs that do not yet exist; provide equitable opportunity in rural communities that have lost control over economic advancement due to technology and globalization; and partner with businesses and the non-profit community to promote opportunities and leverage innovative capacity to advance long-term goals.  In particular, Henderson believes that small business development is the mechanism to unleash growth in Arkansas, and with a particular focus on rural communities.


Current Lieutenant Gov. Gavin Newsom is the Democratic candidate. Newsom is focused on building an upward economy for the state of California and intends to address the state's income inequality and unequal opportunities. He believes that education is economic development, and is key to addressing inequalities while fostering growth and inclusion. Newsom supports the California Promise program, the state's STEM education initiatives (and vows to equip every student with access to a STEM education) and expansion of broadband — he has vowed to continue the expansion of California's broadband infrastructure (universal access to high-speed) — and is advocating for a computer science for all initiative. Newsom pledges to expand the state's one-year free tuition at community colleges to two. In addition, he advocates collaborating with the schools to advance three initiatives: (1) develop transformation maps for every cluster, industry and region of the state in order to prepare students for the jobs that exist, while developing relevant curriculum to meet current and future workforce and skills needs; (2) establish 500,000 apprenticeships by 2029 in order to create a new vocational pipeline of high-skilled workers. Expansion of earn-and-learn apprenticeships and successful labor management programs in advanced manufacturing, energy, health, and info technology; and (3) provide individual skill accounts for Californians seeking employment – these accounts would be established with the backing of businesses, labor and government to tap the resources of California's community college system to assist in training and job placement. Newsom has advocated development of a state bank that would expand access to capital for California's small businesses, and would be utilized to establish innovative micro-lending programs. Newsom wants to empower communities to participate in California's economic growth by aligning economic development initiatives within the Opportunity Zones program to meld public- and private-sector interests and to ensure they are investing together. Newsom has vowed to drive California's innovation by increasing the state's R&D, boosting manufacturing sectors, gearing workforce training toward demands and increasing exports, and catalyzing business startups and expansion through fostering regional and cluster-based collaborations, partnering with industry, academic institutions, and communities. Newsom also seeks to build economic opportunity through renewable energy. He advocates for the state to expand its R&D partnerships, strengthen its policies and programs, and expand the use of clean energy technologies in order to grow jobs.



State Treasurer Walker Stapleton is the Republican candidate. He champions economic policies that will address or spur job growth throughout the state, but with a greater focus on rural Colorado and the Western Slope. Stapleton believes that Colorado's small businesses are the driving force of its economy and vows to create a more positive business environment that does not pick "winners" or "losers," and that works for both large and small businesses, and advocates for restoring and extending equitable growth throughout the state. Stapleton vows to work with the energy industry to understand new technologies and innovations and how that impacts or changes business practices of the sector.

Self-made entrepreneur and former Boulder Congressman Jared Polis is the Democratic candidate. Polis is running on a platform of "bold" ideas.  Key to Polis' campaign is the need for Colorado to adapt to a changing economy. He pledges to reduce income equality, assist and revitalize rural and coal communities, and change the state's economy from the bottom up. In addition, he has a statewide broadband plan and advocates for tax reform. He seeks to assist Colorado's rural communities through establishment or expansion of workforce commissions that would assist residents in locating meaningful employment, retrain for a new career, or become an entrepreneur. He pledges to revitalize rural Colorado by bringing the manufacturing, forestry, agriculture and renewable energy industries and development to communities that already have the re-trained or skilled workers needed, while working with stakeholders to see that those communities which may not be ready, are. Polis advocates for the creation of a blue-ribbon commission to ensure that Colorado is in the best position to address the challenges of the future, such as automation. As governor, he would collaborate with local governments to create strategic regional broadband plans and encourage state agencies to assist in the building of reliable internet across the state using existing resources. In addition, he would reform the state's Broadband Deployment Fund in an effort to move investments and resources faster in the building of high-speed internet and broadband infrastructure needs. Polis seeks to establish the state as a national hub for blockchain innovation in business and government.


Businessman and Democratic candidate Ned Lamont’s commitment to higher education includes supporting programs he calls a “best fit for Connecticut residents,” including apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs, career schools and two-year community colleges. Lamont also wants to expand access to higher education – including to older individuals – by making Connecticut community colleges tuition-free to in-state students who commit to living and working in Connecticut for a period of time after they graduate. He would also prioritize expansion of public-private partnerships between the state’s major employers and community colleges. He would open coding academies and training bootcamps in the state; have state government take the lead and develop apprenticeship programs; and, continue discussions between business community, educational institutions of all levels and organized labor to understand the needs of the 21st century workforce. To address climate change, Lamont would commit Connecticut to a further reduction in carbon emissions from current levels of 35 percent by 2030, 70 percent by 2040, and be carbon neutral by 2050. He would also look to grow jobs in the clean energy field

Republican candidate Bob Stefanowski is the first candidate in Connecticut to win a major party’s nomination to statewide office by petition. The former banking officer cites the “economic freefall” of the state in his five-point plan built on eliminating various taxes to rebuild the economy of the state. To combat the economic woes of the state, Stefanowski plans to phase out the corporate income tax and business entity tax over two years; phase out the state income tax over eight years tied to the attainment of revenue targets; eliminate the gift and estate taxes immediately; embrace a zero-based budgeting to reduce spending; and, enact a taxpayer bill of rights. He believes those measures will bring companies and jobs back to the state and stop the exodus of residents to lower-tax states.


Recent U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis is the Republican candidate for governor. DeSantis’s platform is light on details, but includes opposing tax increases and promoting “skills-based education,” vocational training and charter schools. During Republican primary debates, DeSantis also voiced support for using tax incentives to recruit businesses.

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum is the Democratic candidate for governor. Gillum’s platform states a clear interest in setting corporate tax rates to 7.75 percent, raising teachers’ minimum pay, and investing in vocational training, which he calls “SHOP 2.0.” More generally, Gillum expresses an interest in making Florida the “Solar Capital of the country.”


Brian Kemp, the Georgia Secretary of State, is the Republican candidate for governor. If elected governor, Kemp proposes a “4 Point Plan to Put Georgians First” that includes several traditional economic development approaches. Kemp proposes “common sense workforce development initiatives to meet job demands,” but does not provide specific details about those initiatives. To support rural economic development, Kemp proposes to expand access to high speed broadband by incentivizing the private sector rather than expanding government, increase state/private investments in agriculture R&D activity, improve educational outcomes for rural students, create incentives for business growth in rural regions, and continued development/execution of a rural Georgia growth plan.

Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams has set forth a 12 point vision for Georgia. The plan’s elements include proposals related to education; energy & environment; and, jobs, the economy and infrastructure. With regards to higher education, Abrams proposes the expansion of the state’s HOPE scholarship program and free community college tuition for those entering technical fields. If elected, Abrams proposes the creation of a Georgia Green Bank and increased funding for other initiatives to invest in advanced and renewable energy activities as well as the development of an Advanced Energy Jobs Plan. The plan includes a goal of 22,000 apprenticeships by 2022. To support small business growth, Abrams’ plan would commit a $10 million investment in the state’s small business financing programs as well as encourage youth entrepreneurship and summer job programs. She intends to increase funding for infrastructure improvements including the expansion of high-speed internet across the state.


Democratic incumbent Gov. David Ige is seeking a second term. When elected in 2014, he promised to develop partnerships among the state's universities, research institutions and TBED groups in order to establish Hawaii as the innovation center of the Pacific. He also pledged to cultivate support systems for innovation and implement incentives to attract tech firms. The governor planned to focus on making capital available for startups in strategic industries, including IT, healthcare, energy and agriculture. According to the governor' campaign, under Ige's leadership, the state has experienced a booming economy, educational advancements and a fiscally sound government. Hawaii now has seven start-up accelerators and the state is recognized for being at the center of innovation in clean energy, media and entertainment, and defense. During his first term, the governor supported the development of a new STEM Education Building at Waimea Middle School that offers a new educational approach using Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Mathematics. He expanded the Early College program so Hawaii public high school students can take courses to earn high school and college credits and created the “Hawaii’s Promise” program with the University of Hawaii Community College, which eliminates the cost of college as a barrier to higher education. Ige promises to build upon these accomplishments.

House Minority Leader Andria Tupola is the Republican candidate. Tupola's vision for the state is to build a more affordable Hawaii, provide opportunities for its residents, and retain its young people. Tupola pledges to decrease corporate taxes, increase access to capital grants for local and developing businesses and to build local partnerships with the state’s most competitive industries, such as agriculture and manufacturing. Tupola pledges to create a proper employment pipeline with highly educated and skilled workers to remain in state by increasing vocational training for high schools and community colleges through identification of employment gaps in Hawaii's communities, and by expanding local training and internship programs. She also seeks to coordinate with Hawaii's chambers of commerce, venture capitalists and organizations, as well as college students to address employment gaps or needs.


Idaho Lt. Gov. Brad Little is the Republican candidate. Little has pledged a highly trained workforce (Idaho Grown Jobs plan) and a responsive education system (Education plan). Additionally, he promises a tax system that is fair, simple, competitive and predictable, and with the lightest possible hand of government in the day-to-day of Idahoans and businesses.

Former Idaho State Rep. Paulette Jordan is the Democratic candidate.  Jordan's "Prosperous Idaho" platform involves investing in innovation and expanding opportunities for Idahoans, especially those in rural areas. She seeks to both promote and greater invest in Idaho's clean energy technology – by working to expand and further develop the state's energy resources: wind, solar, water, geothermal and biomass energy. She has pledged: to grow the state's InfoTech sector through investing in Idaho's high school STEM education; would foster private-public partnerships between the state's universities, tech companies, and the Idaho National Lab in order to expand employment opportunities for Idaho's students; and promote research and development around advanced technologies in the agriculture and timber industries. Jordan is also focused on internet equality and vows to bridge the digital divide and expand broadband access.


Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner is seeking a second term, hoping to expand on his economic accomplishments from the previous four years. Early in his tenure, Rauner signed legislation that privatized many of the state’s economic development functions, establishing a new private nonprofit called Intersect Illinois. To support growth in the manufacturing sector, Rauner argues for expanded vocational education, regulatory relief, and local right-to-work laws. Rauner also supports the development of the University of Illinois’ Discovery Partners Institute (IDPI), a proposed innovation center in Chicago’s South Loop that would connect the research expertise of the University of Illinois with the state’s major job producers.

Democrat J.B. Pritzker is challenging Rauner for the governor’s seat. Pritzker’s economic plan for Illinois focuses on infrastructure and small businesses. Pritzker is proposing a “21st Century Capital Bill” that would seek to leverage the maximum possible amount of federal money to improve the state’s road, rail, waterway, and broadband infrastructure, with an emphasis on rural areas. To improve the state’s small business environment, Pritzker has emphasized re-funding programs that received cuts during the Rauner administration. These programs include funding for the state’s technology incubators, small business development centers, matching funds and seed grants that help university-based startups leverage federal funds, and university research efforts and cooperatives focused on renewable energy. Pritzker’s platform also includes programs related to economic inclusion, youth apprenticeships, and access to capital for startups.


Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds is running for her first full term. She replaced the state's former governor, Terry Branstad, in 2017, when he resigned to become the U.S. Ambassador to China. Reynolds is running primarily on his and her records and vows to further the policies and agenda started under her tenure as lieutenant governor. Reynold's top priorities are job creation, cutting taxes and investing in Iowa's public education, in particular, the state's STEM education programs.

Des Moines businessman, and former interim director of the Iowa Department of Economic Development, Fred Hubbell is the Democratic candidate. Hubbell has vowed to work with the state's community colleges and regent schools to stabilize tuition and reverse the recent cuts to Iowa's higher education, which he argues takes a toll on the state's economic development. In addition, Hubbell vows a stronger focus on job training and apprenticeship programs and he would work with employers to create locally driven public-private partnerships at all high schools and community colleges to equip Iowans with the skills that local employers are seeking. He seeks to grow local Iowa businesses, expand broadband internet across the state, and would create access to high-wage jobs by growing the state's wind and solar energy and invest in renewable resources. He is proposing comprehensive reform of the state's tax code.


Kansas State Sen. Laura Kelly is the Democratic candidate. While Kelly supports and would continue to invest in the traditional engines that drive prosperity: public education, job training and infrastructure, she also believes that the state's next leaders must think more like entrepreneurs and less like politicians. As governor, Kelly vows to "innovate" and would craft creative strategic investment plans for the jobs of the future. Some of Kelly's priorities are investing in workforce via an education plan. She pledges to invest in higher ed., including technical and trade schools, as well as job training programs. As part of workforce investment, Kelly wants the creation or expansion of high school technical programs, community college certification programs, and college or university tuition relief. She also advocates improving the digital infrastructure (broadband expansion), and investing in the state's rural communities.

Current Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is the Republican candidate. Kobach advocates a traditional Republican platform and pledges low tax, low regulation policies in order to bring high paying jobs back to Kansas. Kobach vows to bring manufacturing jobs back to the state by supporting vocational education programs. He would seek to develop new partnerships with trade schools and other job training programs to ensure that the skills needed are the skills being taught.

Kansas City businessman Greg Orman is the Independent candidate and deemed a serious contender for the open governor's seat. Orman vows a proactive economic development strategy that leverages the state's strengths — geographic location and natural resources (wind and solar). His initiatives would include better pathways to technical education, including loans for certificate programs and support of public-private partnerships in technical education programs, and he would design a renewable energy plan to make Kansas a national leader in wind and solar.


Republican candidate Shawn Moody would evaluate high school, community college, and university system offerings with an eye on the careers in the region, long-term trends, and coordination of programs to reduce costs and improve student outcomes, ensuring they align with Maine employers’ needs. He would also bring back a focus on Career Technical Education (CTE), requiring instructors to spend two weeks in a “best in class” Maine business to ensure knowledge of modern job processes and create job placement opportunities for students.

The current attorney general, Janet Mills, is the Democratic candidate for governor. She has outlined her vision for economic development in an action plan. If elected, she says she would create a small business accelerator; launch job growth loans to provide 18 months of no-interest loans for small businesses that want to finance adding a new employee; establish a program to help former and future Mainers bring their current job to Maine so they can work remotely but live in the state; and, provide a rural workplace grant to help communities convert a downtown building into a co-working space with high-speed broadband for small businesses and remote workers. Additionally, she lays out plans to consolidate 15 agencies into a new Maine Growth Authority dedicated to economic development, financing and workforce training.


Gov. Larry Hogan (R) is running for reelection. On the topic of the economy, Hogan’s campaign site generally directs readers to his record in lowering taxes and reducing regulation. While Hogan’s administration has continued to make investments in economic development and TBED, his reelection platform does not address a programmatic vision for the economy. The campaign’s education platform notes Hogan’s support for funding primary and secondary education, limiting tuition increases and implementing P-TECH schools — although the site does not actually say that the Governor intends to continue this direction into a second term.

Ben Jealous, a current VC investor and former head of the NAACP, is the Democratic party’s nominees for governor. Jealous has an innovation plan calling for a small business bill of rights, governor’s office of tech transfer, emphasis on clean technology, and realigning tax incentives to emphasize entrepreneurship. Additionally, his “Make it in Maryland” plan calls for a $15 minimum wage, supporting the state’s life sciences cluster, a new “Job Boosting Program” to employ or train all citizens who want to work, and providing infrastructure and technical assistance to support TBED in rural areas. The Jealous campaign also provides a “Great Cities” plan emphasizing support for minority business enterprises, a state infrastructure bank, gigabit internet speed for cities, partnering with HBCUs, and “leveraging urban assets for innovation.” In the area of education, Jealous says he wants to raise teacher pay, provide more school funding, make community college free and four-year public school debt-free for citizens.



Gov. Charlie Baker (R) is running for reelection. The ticket’s campaign site does not list any specific policies or issues to be addressed in a second term but does point to recognition for have an innovative economy and an initiative to keep four-year degrees under $30,000. Over the past four years, Baker has signed bills to expand workforce training and increase economic development spending, as well as proposed a $500 million life sciences initiative.


 Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette is running as the Republican candidate for governor and as a “jobs governor.” Schuette’s economic development plan relies on two main strategies: improving the state’s business environment by cutting taxes, regulations, and “wasteful” spending, and a "paycheck training plan," which seeks to increase training and fill the state’s already open jobs. As a vocal supporter of the Trump administration’s tax cuts, Schuette recommends lowering the state’s income tax rate to 3.9 percent (from 4.25 percent). On workforce, Schuette recommends bringing together educators, labor leaders, businesses, and philanthropy to build local partnerships. Schuette would also create an online portal for internship and apprenticeship programs, and let schools hire non-traditional instructors for technical fields.

Former House Rep. Gretchen Whitmer is running against Schuette as a Democrat. Whitmer similarly would like to cut red tape and streamline the state’s regulatory system to encourage small business growth and startups. The MI Opportunity Scholarship proposed by Whitmer would be a two-year, debt-free plan to help those pursuing careers in skilled trades. The related Michigan Reconnect program would offer workforce development services to adults in need of retraining, a youth-focused workforce program, and a program targeting veterans. Other elements of Whitmer’s “better skills, better jobs for Michigan” strategy include, placemaking, reinstating historical building and brownfield redevelopment credits, creating a state land acquisition program, growing the state’s defense industry, and regularly evaluating MEDC programs. Whitmer is also proposing a repeal of the state’s right to work law, raising the state’s minimum wage, and enforcing equal pay for equal work laws.


U.S. Rep. Tim Walz is the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) Party candidate. Walz's platform includes a pledge to give every Minnesota student the opportunity to a higher education by providing two years tuition free education at state universities for individuals whose families make less than $125K a year.  He would re-invest in the Minnesota Investment Fund and the Minnesota Job Creation Fund to assist startups in creating new jobs; remove barriers to economic growth by encouraging equity and inclusion through such initiatives as connecting rural residents through expansion of broadband and close the opportunities gap for minorities. Walz advocates for a $1 billion bonding bill to improve the state's infrastructure, and proposes expanding the renewable energy standard to keep the state's clean economy growing and creating jobs.

Former state Rep. and Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson is the Republican candidate. Johnson's campaign provides very little in policy specifics, but does advocate cutting the state's income taxes, licensing fees and regulations in order to make Minnesota's business climate competitive, and instituting an automatic taxpayer refund when the state government overtaxes Minnesotans, and in doing so seeks to encourage a pro-small business environment. Additionally, he pledges to reform Minnesota's state government by initiating top-to-bottom audits of tax-payer-funded state programs, supporting term-limits, and vetoing any omnibus bills that does not adhere to a single subject rule.


Republican incumbent Gov. Pete Ricketts is seeking a second term. When elected in 2014, he pledged to use the state's Department of Economic Development to shape regional economic blueprints of growth, increase public-private collaboration in education and training initiatives across the state, and designate a position within the Department of Education to partner with private-sector leaders to promote manufacturing and making it a priority focus of the state's economic development efforts. In a second term, the governor is vowing to grow jobs, create opportunity, and grow the economy through more effective, efficient and customer-focused state government. He pledges to continue to build upon his first-term accomplishments by further eliminating unnecessary government regulations, reducing taxes, in particular to providing property tax relief, and continuing to streamline spending in the state's budget.

Nebraska state Sen. Bob Krist is the Democratic candidate, but was previously a Republican. He aims to address Nebraska's educational apparatus – from K-12 to community colleges and universities, to apprenticeships and other job training programs. He is committed to reversing the cuts the Ricketts administration has imposed to the state's higher education system. He has also proposed expanding rural broadband, investing in the state's university research programs, and funding a four-lane highway system.


Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak is the Democratic candidate. Sisolak's campaign is focused largely on the need to diversify Nevada's economy. He pledges to enact policies that will bring diversification and support the state's small and homegrown businesses. Sisolak would seek to attract new industries to the state, especially clean energy, manufacturing and medical research, by leveraging the state's geography and resources and by promoting partnerships between professional technical training programs and employers. Additionally, he supports STEM initiatives, high school apprenticeships, as well as more professional technical training programs.

Current Nevada state Attorney General Adam Laxalt is the Republican candidate. A vocal critic of some of Republican Gov. Sandoval's achievements, he is looking to reshape Nevada. Laxalt is advocating for policies that take advantage of Nevada's many natural economic strengths, remove barriers to job creation and business expansion, and empower the state's education system to equip future workers with the skills needed to succeed. In order to innovate and grow, Nevada's community colleges and career and technical schools need more flexibility to develop programs tailored specifically to the workforce needs of its local communities. To that end, Laxalt is proposing education reforms that include fully embracing Career and Technical Education (CTE) and to continue support for and expand the Jobs for America's Graduates (JAG), as well as align the program's goals and focus with CTE. He supports choice and competition in the state's energy sectors.

New Hampshire

Gov. Chris Sununu (R) was first elected to the governor’s seat in 2016 and is running for re-election. While he has not staked out specific positions, he cites his record from his first term, including making investments in clean water projects, expanding educational opportunities for students and signing job creating tax cuts into law. He also notes that he has created the Dept. of Business and Economic Affairs and networked hundreds of out-of-state businesses to relocate to New Hampshire. He also says he established the New Hampshire Robotics Education Fund to prepare students for work in the 21st century and takes credit for $5 million in higher education scholarships.

Molly Kelly, a former state senator, is the Democratic candidate for governor in New Hampshire. Without citing specifics on accomplishing her goals, she says she would work to make college more affordable, decrease the burden for students and ensure education remains available to everyone. She says she would help meet the state’s workforce needs by ensuring that companies recognize and value contributions of older workers. She also advocates reinstating net neutrality on the state level. As governor she would veto an income or sales tax, close corporate tax breaks and loopholes to strengthen public education, and invest in job training. She also would expand the group net metering cap from 1 megawatt to 5 megawatts and would work with neighboring states as part of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

New Mexico

U.S. Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham is the Democratic candidate. Lujan Grisham is campaigning on "Build New Mexico" – a four-step plan that would create a governor's Commerce Cabinet; create a governor's Council on Entrepreneurial Development to drive focused strategies related to development of small- and medium-sized businesses, particularly in emerging industries; and create a Sector Strategy Council that would bring the state's universities, businesses, unions, labs and community leaders together to coordinate industry-driven development in sectors with potential for growth. She also would develop four centers of excellence at New Mexico's state universities to build industries and create jobs. She would diversify the state's economy and drive investment in sectors including cybersecurity, intelligent manufacturing, sustainable and green industries, bioscience and health, and aerospace. Her plan also would develop specific public-private partnership strategies to create jobs through driving technology transfer and research commercialization, and bolster the state's entrepreneurial ecosystem. She also has 10-specific job creation proposals, known as Jumpstart New Mexico. Other policy goals or initiatives that Lujan Grisham advocates are greater access to broadband across the state, and support for business incubators in the state's rural areas and small towns. Lujan Grisham vows to enhance the state's public education by adopting rigorous competency-based science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) standards, and expand dual degree technical programs, access to apprenticeships, and opportunities for students to develop the critical thinking and entrepreneurial skills needed today and in the future. She seeks to improve graduation rates and stem the state's brain drain by prepping every student for success in college or career. As for workforce development and training, Lujan Grisham vows to make community colleges an essential driver in the state's economic development by crafting stronger, centralized programs and resources,

U.S. Congressman Steve Pearce is the Republican candidate. Job creation and economic diversification are the primary focus of his plan.  Pearce seeks to attract more entrepreneurs to the state, and would do so by offering in-state tuition to international STEM and business students to attend New Mexico's public universities. He also advocates that the state's Investment Council establish a proof-of-concept fund that would assist early-stage New Mexico startups or entrepreneurs and stipulate that the use of the funds obligate the company to build their businesses in New Mexico. Pearce believes that apprenticeship programs should start in high school and would work to establish such programs throughout the state's school systems.

New York

After a heavily publicized primary, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) successfully won the Democratic nomination for a third term. A key component of Cuomo’s strategy has been The Regional Economic Development Council (REDC) initiative. The REDC is comprised of 10 public-private regional partnerships that have developed strategic plans for economic growth and compete for funding to implement projects around workforce development, industry clusters, and infrastructure. Other strategies employed by the Cuomo administration have been: investment into the AIM Photonics Institute in Rochester, one of the nine Manufacturing USA institutes; the Excelsior Scholarship, which offers certain residents free tuition at state universities; and Start-Up NY, which offers 10 years of tax subsidies to technology startups choosing to locate in the state.

Marcus Molinaro, who currently serves as Dutchess County Executive, is running against Cuomo as a Republican. Molinaro is vowing to reform New York’s Empire State Development agency, which he criticizes for large incentive packages, ethical issues, and a general lack of transparency. Molinaro is proposing to ban companies contributing to New York political campaigns from receiving state tax breaks or other subsidies.  Molinaro wants to provide property tax relief, to remove regulations burdening small businesses, and reduce state spending. 


Mike DeWine (R), Ohio’s attorney general since 2011, is running for governor. DeWine is proposing several changes to the state’s overall economic development strategy. DeWine’s strategy is outlined in The Ohio Prosperity Plan, which focuses on eliminating regulations, promoting skills-based training, and encouraging innovation, research, and investment. The plan proposes changing state law to allow research performed at Ohio universities to remain the intellectual property of the researcher, not the institution. It also would establish Opportunity Zones, identify public-private options to expand broadband, and implement several skills training programs.  These include regional job-training partnerships to coordinate workforce development across state agencies, promoting the use of certificates, and spearheading occupational licensing reform, particularly for military members and spouses who are licensed in other states.

Richard Cordray, the previous head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and Ohio’s attorney general from 2008 to 2010, is the Democratic candidate. To grow economic opportunity, Cordray first wants a complete evaluation into the past performance of Ohio’s previous approaches to job growth, including the Ohio Third Frontier initiative, the Jobs Ohio program, the current Development Services Agency and its predecessor, the Department of Development, and brownfields redevelopment programs. To pay for infrastructure such as roads, bridges, broadband, renewable energy, and transit, Cordray is proposing a major bond package to be put on the ballot before Ohio voters. On workforce, Cordray has voiced support for technical school programs, industry certifications and two-year and four-year degrees. Cordray also proposes establishing an Office of Connectivity to coordinate the state’s broadband policy and a Small Business Chief to direct attention toward the business development needs of small businesses and entrepreneurs.

Both candidates have indicated that they intend to keep JobsOhio, the state’s business attraction organization and a key initiative of term-limited Republican Gov. John Kasich. 


Former four-term Oklahoma state Attorney General Drew Edmondson is the Democratic candidate. Edmondson proposes a pro-business approach of working with private industry to lead economic development. He vows to work with Oklahoma's rural communities on economic development plans and initiatives, to encourage more rural investment, and to pass a Farmer's Bill of Rights, in order to empower small farmers. Edmondson also advocates for expansion of broadband and related infrastructure. If elected, he pledges to implement zero-based budgets, to streamline all state executive positions, and staff the Oklahoma Department of Commerce with experienced business professionals to drive development initiatives and policies.

Political newcomer and Tulsa businessman Kevin Stitt is the Republican candidate. Stitt bills himself as a conservative outsider with a vision to make Oklahoma a top-10 state. His five-pillar plan includes plans reforming the state's education system and expanding economic prosperity. He vows to reduce and streamline the state's agencies and boards, establish agency performance metrics and audit all agencies, and advocates for a line-item budget. He would seek to expand economic prosperity in Oklahoma by capitalizing on President Trump's recent tax cuts and jobs act. He also pledges to resume the state's business recruitment program.


Incumbent Democratic Gov. Kate Brown is running for her first full term. She became governor in 2015 after the resignation of Gov. John Kitzhaber and won a special election in 2016 to complete his term. During her governorship, Brown touts making education her top prioritywith large investments in education, doubled funding for career and technical education (CTE) programs, as well as for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) programs, and identifying additional priorities and proposed policies that focused on building a skilled and educated workforce. Brown increased the state's minimum wage and signed the Oregon Promise into law, reducing community college tuition and expanded Opportunity grants to thousands of Oregon students. The governor pledges to launch the Future Ready Oregon program, a skill and job training initiative for students and adults designed to close the skills gap. Other platform priorities include creation of a small business advisory cabinet to advance policies involving mentorship programs, access to capital, and support for entrepreneurs in Oregon's rural and underserved communities. Brown seeks to continue building some of the state's most innovative industries, such as the Oregon cannabis industry, and developing supply chains for emerging technologies, such as cross-laminated timber wood products.

Oregon state Rep. Knute Buehler is the Republican candidate. His platform "One Oregon" would bridge the state's rural and urban divide through business and education policies. He vows 100 percent statewide high-speed broadband access by 2023; would extend career and technical education (CTE) and STEM programs to all of Oregon's students; and, foster rural job growth through fully funded CTE programs in those communities. As governor, Buehler would defend free trade and open markets for Oregon's products, make investments in water resource infrastructure, and champion sustainable forestry and associated jobs.


Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf primarily touts his existing record as well as his previous experience as a business owner. On his campaign website, the governor pledges to build upon his record in areas such as streamlining services for small businesses, investing in infrastructure, reducing business taxes, creating 21st Century Jobs, expanding workforce development opportunities, and preparing students for 21st century jobs.

Republican candidate Scott Wagner published his plan for “fixing” Pennsylvania. The plan primarily focuses on funding traditional economic development efforts (marketing and business attraction/expansion), cutting taxes, reducing regulation, creating a better environment for business, and investing in infrastructure. If elected, Wagner promises to work with the Department of Community & Economic Development and the General Assembly to build a comprehensive economic development plan. Wagner also pledges to “retool and reinvent” the education system to prepare children to fill STEM jobs and address the 200,000 available skilled labor positions.

Rhode Island

Current Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) is running for reelection and points to her record for increasing wages and supporting Rhode Island businesses and manufacturers. Her campaign site notes that wages have increased, unemployment numbers mirror the nation instead of being some of the highest when she took office, and companies are moving to and expanding in the state, helped by a combination of job training and business incentives. Raimondo led the effort to offer tuition-free access to community college and created new career and technical training programs in and beyond high school.

In a repeat of the 2014 gubernatorial election in the state, Raimondo will face Republican challenger Allan Fung who currently serves as the mayor of Cranston. As part of his economic plan for the state, Fung would lower the sales tax each year to end up at 5 percent, or the lowest in New England (with the exception of New Hampshire, which doesn’t have a sales tax) and would ensure that occupational licensing, permitting and business incorporation fees are the lowest in New England. Fung plans to waive all fees for startups for their first year in business. He would establish Business Concierge Centers for startups and business owners. He would propose term limits for the state legislature and advocates giving the governor line item veto authority.

South Carolina

Republican Gov. Henry McMaster is running for reelection. He touts his past performance with regard to economic development and has a strategy focused mostly on traditional economic development efforts, cutting taxes and reducing regulation. He also published plans for workforce development and several strategies to improve education across the state. His workforce development plan includes three elements: incentivize businesses to participate with local high schools in apprenticeship programs; increase workforce scholarships and grants at technical colleges for qualifying students; and, expand workforce-training opportunities for inmates who have completed their sentences and are re-entering the community. To support education, McMaster pledges to align the state’s educational system with the technological necessities of the new economy including offering courses in coding and computer science.

The Democratic candidate James Smith’s website includes a seven-point plan for South Carolina, including a section on economic opportunities. While the primary focus of this plan is centered on improving infrastructure, Smith also calls for creating new workforce development partnerships between industry and government to train workers for available jobs and create special programs to match veterans with employment opportunities and training. As governor, Smith would create both educational and workforce scholarship to help develop a 21st century workforce to attract global corporations and retain existing businesses. Smith also proposed targeting growth in the renewable energy industry, establishing regional business incubators across the state, and expanding access to high speed internet in rural communities. His education efforts would create a “School-to-Work Pipeline” and include making computer science a part of the core curriculum for K-12 education.

South Dakota

Former U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem is the Republican candidate. She vows to kick-start South Dakota's economy by lifting government burdens from entrepreneurs, making it easier to work and create opportunities to prosper. Noem's proposed Workforce 2025 plan prioritizes education programs that, in her words, would produce job holders and not degree holders. Noem proposes providing career counseling to students regarding high-demand or in-demand jobs beginning in middle school, expanding access to experience-driven technical training in high school, and dramatically increasing shared-learning opportunities among high schools, technical schools, universities and employers to better manage a student's transition from home to college to the workforce. She would seek changes in policies to fast-track apprentices, technical school graduates, and veterans and military families. She also proposes that experience be considered as part of the licensing process. Noem's rural revitalization plan includes broadband expansion, economic development initiatives and focusing on rural communities' K-12 schools.

South Dakota state Sen. Billie Sutton is the Democratic candidate. Sutton's Planting Seeds for Growth platform is more agricultural-based and involves building markets for South Dakota as well as pursuing new market opportunities, innovating within state programs to assist the state's new farmers and ranchers onto the land, and building agricultural apprenticeship programs. A Sutton administration would actively promote South Dakota's products, seek value-added agricultural opportunities and technologies for a stronger economy and diversify the state's rural economy and producers to remain viable. Sutton supports lifelong learning and vows to make such educational opportunities affordable and accessible to South Dakotans by forging public-private partnerships and increasing access to scholarships. He pledges to develop a Career and Technical Education (CTE) grant program to encourage the state's public schools to collaborate and innovate opportunities to expose students to technical exploration earlier, as well as to connect students to various post-secondary options and paths to jobs.


Karl Dean, mayor of Nashville 2007-2015, is the Democratic candidate for governor. Dean’s three issues are jobs, education and healthcare. The broad goals of his jobs platform are to recruit businesses and create an environment for business success. More specifically, he says he wants to continue the state’s existing investments in rural broadband, protect Appalachian Regional Commission funding for the state, and expand access to vocational training programs. He also supports the state’s current commitment to increasing the number of college graduates. In the area of education, Dean’s platform includes a commitment to increase teacher pay.


Republican Gov. Greg Abbott is seeking a second term. When elected in 2014, he pledged to create jobs and promote opportunity, cut taxes and improve education. Since taking office, Abbott’s campaign says he has added 500,000 new jobs, delivered the state's largest tax relief package in nearly a decade, and slashed the business franchise tax by 25 percent. He also increased state support for emerging research at Texas universities. For a second term, Abbott has a new set of policy proposals entitled "Bicentennial Blueprint: Framing Our Future," which seeks to build upon the successes achieved during his first term. Abbott would continue to grow the economy, increase government transparency, and elevate Texas' education. Abbott is also vowing to amend the constitution to narrow permissible uses of the state's Economic Stabilization Fund to cover revenue shortfalls in biennia, debt retirement, infrastructure, and expenses related to a state of disaster declared by the governor.

Lupe Valdez, the former Sheriff of Dallas County, is the Democratic candidate. Her campaign is focused on embracing the state's diversity to compete in the global economy. A Valdez administration would increase investments in education and ensure that educational funding is equitable across the state, expand access to early childhood education to college readiness programs, and provide vocational training and programs aimed at producing a skilled workforce.


Christine Hallquist currently is the CEO of the Vermont Electric Coop and is the Democratic candidate for governor. Hallquist says she will connect every home and business in Vermont with fiber optic cable utilizing proven rural cooperative models. As governor, she says she would invest in programs for displaced workers, focusing on job retraining for current and future job markets and separate property taxes from education funding. On education, she would invest in opportunities for tuition-free public college and trade schools. She also advocates following the Solar Pathways Vermont plan for reaching a 90 percent renewable energy supply by 2050.


Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) is running for his third term as governor. In 2011, Walker established the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) and privatized many of the state’s economic development functions. Walker’s campaign is proposing to support dual enrollment at high schools and community colleges, continuing to develop technologies around career matching, and expanding youth apprenticeships to students in 7th and 8th grades. Walker is also proposing a tax credit of up to $5,000 over five years for college graduates who live and work in Wisconsin.

Tony Evers, who has served as the Superintendent of Public Instruction of Wisconsin since 2009, is running against Walker as a Democrat. Evers is proposing to disband the WEDC, replace the organization, and return the majority of economic development dollars to local communities and regional organizations.  He advocates increased investment in infrastructure, including renewable energy, airports, and broadband, as well as education, and a return to "The Wisconsin Idea," where the R&D at the Wisconsin university system is linked to well-being in the state. For rural areas in particular, Evers seeks to reorient economic development agencies to increase incentives that support agriculture and rural businesses through training, labor attraction, market development and business support.


Former state representative and energy attorney Mary Throne is the Democratic candidate. While her website provides very little in policy specifics, her campaign does emphasize that Wyoming is in need of becoming less dependent on coal, oil, and natural gas, and the state needs to break the cycles of boom and bust. According to Throne, breaking that cycle will require the state to take advantage and invest in the entrepreneurial energy that resides in Wyoming. In terms of business attraction, Throne states that education is the number one driver; she supports full funding of the state's public K-12 system, and  believes the state has a constitutional obligation to do so (this is in response to a recently passed state senate resolution that deemed education was not a fundamental right). She favors reforming the state's tax structure in order to create a more diverse economy. She would either increase taxes on businesses in industries outside of the energy sector, such as leisure services and tourism, or create new taxes on the energy sector. Throne also believes that commercial air service and access to broadband internet are important drivers to diversifying the state's economy, and the government must be actively involved in their implementation.

Current state Treasurer Mark Gordon is the Republican candidate. His website provides little in policy specifics, but does advocate reducing the size of government, decreasing state spending, and defending conservative values. To diversify Wyoming's economy, Gordon would shift the state's revenues by tweaking and building in the assets the state already has – particularly within the energy sector, such as placing greater emphasis on processes that add value to minerals; he would work to position the state as a leader in advanced energy technologies, such as carbon capture and storage, enhanced oil recovery and new carbon-to-product markets. Gordon also believes more needs to be done in terms of encouraging entrepreneurship and small business development.

Current Gov. Mead's recent initiative, Economically Needed Diversity Options for Wyoming (ENDOW), was created as a way to develop a long-term strategy for diversifying the state's economy. This past legislative session, state lawmakers allocated funding to create councils dedicated to exploring priorities, recommendations, or plans those councils might identify. The next governor will be in charge of continuing those efforts and possibly expanding upon Mead's initiative; however, both Gordon and Throne, while optimistic about ENDOW, are not fully committed to it. Throne believes ENDOW is too futuristic and that more must happen now; Gordon said he would use the ENDOW recommendations as a guide in developing a path forward, and not necessarily the destination. 

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