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Economic Development Low Priority for Gubernatorial Elections?

September 13, 2002

Tuesday’s primary resulted in the selection of gubernatorial candidates in nine states: Arizona, Connecticut, Maryland, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wisconsin. As of press time, Florida’s primary results on the Democratic side were still uncertain.

SSTI reviewed the candidates’ campaign websites to determine their positions on economic development and the role of science and technology in today’s economy. Conventional political wisdom would indicate that in poor economic times, a major campaign theme would be economic development. If that’s the case this year, the theme is not reflected in most candidates’ websites.

Of the 20 major candidates advancing as a result of Tuesday’s election, SSTI found that only eight offered substantive discussion of issues of interest to the tech-based economic development community. The analysis reveals, however, that those advocating investments in science and technology continue to come from both parties; bipartisan support for science and technology has been a hallmark of tech-based economic development since its inception in the 1950s.

The eight candidates, with highlights of their proposals, include:


Former Rep. Matt Salmon (R) calls for the development of a better bridge between the education community and the business community and would appoint a cabinet-level officer in charge of economic policy and development. Within one year, the officer would develop a plan to have all of Arizona capable of high-speed communication within eight years.


Lt. Governor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend (D) indicates through her website that she will strongly support the Maryland Technology Development Corporation (TEDCO) and pursue the development of manufacturing facilities that are directly connected to our research parks and universities. She pledges to stimulate investment in high-growth sectors, including support for the Biotech Park and providing targeted tax and investment incentives for new biotech or other technology companies. She also proposes to expand angel investor groups to help more small businesses and minority enterprises to access capital.


Roger Moe (D) says he will “take an intense interest in the research climate at the University of Minnesota, help the University attract top scholars, and encourage the State Universities to broaden their efforts to transfer research into business and industry applications.”

New Hampshire

Craig Benson (R) supports the creation of “high-tech E-Zones in the northern part of New Hampshire to attract firms to areas of the state needing economic development. These five square mile regions will be heavily wired for high-speed Internet access and digital phone coverage.”

New York

Governor Pataki will be the Republican and Conservative party candidate. In discussing his economic development achievements, Governor Pataki’s campaign website points to his “personal involvement, commitment, and vision [for bringing] International SEMATECH North to Albany....Governor Pataki’s leadership and commitment to a 21st Century economy led to New York State’s $250 million commitment to create Centers of Excellence in Albany, Buffalo, Long Island, Greater Rochester and Syracuse.”

Governor Pataki proposes creating an Empire Opportunity Fund for economic development initiatives to create jobs through technology and biotechnology research, small business incubators and downtown commercial redevelopment projects. He also pledged $5 million for the “Security Through Advanced Research and Technology” program to help New York’s universities secure federal and other high technology research funding from homeland security.

Comptroller Carl McCall is the Democratic nominee. He proposes to focus economic development on four major growth areas, including information technology and biotechnology, and transform the state’s universities into economic engines. He would create a New York State Council on Higher Education that would form closer links between the universities and the business community, spur new businesses, secure greater levels of scientific and technical funding, and use the universities to assist with the economic transition of communities.


Governor Scott McCallum (R) promises to focus on state and local economic development in 11 industry clusters and to continue “strong partnerships with recipients of eight Technology Zone grants to develop and expand high-technology businesses across Wisconsin.”

Attorney General Jim Doyle (D) proposals include creating: an office of entrepreneurial development; a technology scholarship program; and, additional research institutions. He proposes to construct world class-facilities to attract, develop, and retain top researchers and to catalyze new science and technology. He suggests expanding the state’s R&D tax credit, enhancing the state’s technology transfer programs, and capturing more federal research funding. He also wants to strengthen angel investor networks and expand the state’s SBIR outreach program.

In the coming weeks, the Digest will provide more information on other gubernatorial candidates' positions on issues involving building tech-based economies.