SSTI Digest

Geography: Minnesota

Minnesota Lawmakers Establish Green Jobs Plan; Gov Takes Final Action on Budget

As one of several states working to recruit and retain companies that create green jobs, Minnesota lawmakers passed a measure to create a multiagency authority to promote, market and coordinate state agency collaboration on green enterprise and green economy projects. At the same time, legislators rejected Gov. Tim Pawlenty's Green JOBZ proposal, creating a tax-free program for renewable and clean energy businesses modeled after the original JOBZ program and part of the governor's Jobs and Recovery Act (see the Feb. 4, 2009 issue of the Digest).

TBED People and Organizations

W. Steven Burke is the new president of Biofuels Center of North Carolina.

What Are Green Jobs? Working Definitions from Current TBED Research

Though green jobs have become the focus of many TBED initiatives at the federal, state and local levels, it remains difficult to estimate the size of the green workforce. Green jobs are a relatively new focus for economic development, and there is no standard definition of the green economy and green occupations. Several recent reports have taken on the task of defining green jobs, including the industry sectors that should be folded into that definition.

Tax Incentives for CAPCOs, Angel Investment, Green Jobs Sought in Minnesota

As part of the 2010-11 biennial budget unveiled last week, Gov. Tim Pawlenty proposed a package of tax incentives directed toward small, emerging businesses and companies that create green jobs and services. The governor's proposed Minnesota Jobs Recovery Act calls for a sizable investment over the next biennium with even greater costs beginning in 2012.

Tech Talkin' Govs, Part III

The third installment of the Tech Talkin' Govs series includes highlights from state of the state, budget and inaugural addresses from governors in Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, and New Mexico.

TBED People

Southern Growth hired Ted Abernathy, Jr., former Executive Vice President & COO of the Research Triangle Regional Partnership, to serve as its Executive Director, filling the vacancy created by Jim Clinton's resignation in September.

Governors Challenge Youth to Solve Real-world Industry Problem

Armed with professional advice from mentors in scientific fields and free access to sophisticated design and engineering software, teachers and students from Hawaii, Kansas, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Vermont and Virginia will participate in a national competition to solve a real-world engineering challenge defined by the aviation industry.
The idea behind the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Real World Design Challenge is to create a pipeline of highly qualified workers by preparing high school students for careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields based on issues facing high-tech and defense industries.
Ralph Coppola, director of Worldwide Education for Parametric Technology Corporation, said many aerospace and defense companies that work as contractors to national security agencies are concerned the U.S. is not producing enough qualified workers who must be able to work on both the defense and commercial side. A survey conducted with these companies in the Northeast found 54 percent of the workforce is 45 years or older and one-third are eligible for retirement today. At the same time, engineering degrees make up only 5 percent of the total baccalaureate population in the U.S., Coppola said.
U.S. Continues to Trail Behind in STEM Graduates
A coalition of 16 leading business organizations echoed this concern with the release of a report last month assessing three years’ progress in working toward a goal of doubling the number of students earning bachelor’s degrees in STEM fields by 2015. The report by Tapping America’s Potential indicates growing support for the group’s agenda to advance U.S. competitiveness in STEM, but shows little progress toward the goal. In fact, the number of degrees in STEM fields awarded to undergraduate students has only grown by 24,000 since 2005 – a small increase that is not on track to reach the goal of 400,000 over the next seven years, the report finds.
The Real World Design Challenge hopes to reverse this trend by providing high school students with the background and framework for competing more effectively in the global economy. In designing the program, aerospace and defense companies voiced a need for employees having seven to
10 years of experience and the necessary education and skills. Recognizing that this requirement would add another decade to the pipeline, program administrators suggested integrating the real-world experience at the K-12 and undergraduate level. 
Engaging Youth in Real-world Situations
Ten states with significant aerospace industry presence were invited to participate in the challenge during the pilot year. So far, six states have confirmed their participation, beginning with an announcement last month from Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas. Next year, the challenge will be open to all U.S. states and territories. Once a school has signed on, the teachers are trained to use software and other tools to apply in teaching design and global engineering. Teachers will then lead teams of 3-7 students who will work on the same design challenge defined by Cessna engineers – an issue currently being addressed in the aviation industry.
Each participating teacher will receive nearly $1 million in engineering software to be used in the challenge. Teachers and students are given access to DOE energy laboratories and may consult with industry experts from the Federal Aviation Administration. Teams will submit their solutions to a review board consisting of experts in government, K-12 education, higher education and industry. The governors of each participating state will announce a winning team within their state in early spring who will then go on to compete in a national challenge in Washington
, D.C., which consists of a written submission and oral presentation on a newly defined challenge.
A major goal of the challenge is to teach students to become better innovators, Coppola said. The student teams are built around real industry roles, including a project manager, scientist, engineer, and community relations and marketing specialist. The national presentation will be much like submitting and defending a proposal for a contract or a thesis in which students are challenged and must defend their position, Coppola said.
More information on the Real World Design Challenge, a partnership between the U.S. Department of Energy, the Federal Aviation Administration, Parametric Technology Corporation, Hewlett-Packard Corporation and Flometrics Inc., is available at:

Broadband RoundUp: States Expand Efforts to Increase High-speed Internet Access

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed a bill authorizing community service districts to provide high-speed Internet services in areas in which no private company has done so. The districts, which provide basic infrastructure such as water, sewer and police services, will help extend broadband access into rural areas of the state that remain underserved. The bill reflects the recommendations of the California Broadband Task Force, which was created in 2006 by Gov. Schwarzenegger and presented its findings in January (see the Dec. 4, 2006 issue of the Digest).

Minnesota Legislature Creates New Office of Science and Technology

Minnesota legislators established the Office of Science and Technology (OST) to develop a collaborative partnership between industry, academia and government that will coordinate federal funding procurement efforts in S&T with Minnesota. OST's efforts will focus on developing the partnership to help small help businesses access federal grants for technology development and promote contractual relationships between Minnesota small, medium and large businesses according to the governor's press office. 
The Department of Employment and Economic Development will receive $400,000 for the effort in fiscal year 2009 to expand current SBIR and STTR efforts and develop a process for technology partnering and commercialization to enhance the S&T funding pipeline.
Legislators also approved: 

Recent Research: Measuring the Effectiveness of State R&D Tax Credits

Two weeks ago, Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter vetoed legislation to repeal state R&D income tax credits for Idaho companies. Among his reasons for the veto, Gov. Otter claimed removing the credits would put Idaho at a competitive disadvantage because surrounding states over similar incentives. Was he right?

$12M SEED Initiative Proposed in Minnesota Supplemental Budget

Aiming to resolve the state’s projected $935 million deficit in its current two-year budget, Gov. Tim Pawlenty introduced a plan that closes Minnesota's budget gap and invests additional funding in rural entrepreneurship and teacher training initiatives for K-12 math and science educators. 
Under the governor’s plan, state spending would be cut by $341 million and the state would tap into the budget reserve and surplus funds within the Health Care Access Fund for another $500 million.
The fiscal year 2008 supplemental budget recommends $12 million in FY09 for the Strategic Entrepreneurial Economic Development (SEED) initiative, focusing on rural areas of the state by facilitating business development through support of new and existing programs (see the Oct. 3, 2007 issue of the Digest). The following are among the governor’s recommendations for the SEED initiative:

Minnesota Governor Announces Clean Energy Initiatives

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty recently unveiled four energy initiatives to promote clean energy R&D and the use of renewable energy technologies in the state. Through a combination of executive orders and legislative proposals, the programs are intended to push Minnesota towards its goals of having 25 percent of the state’s energy come from renewable sources by 2025 and reducing the state’s greenhouse emissions 80 percent by 2050. These new initiatives are: