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State Strategic Plans Focus on Supporting S&T in Key Sectors

October 24, 2012

In an era of tightening fiscal constraints, states have to make tough decisions, establish clear economic development funding priorities and transform their economic development models to take advantage of immediate opportunities and position their state for long-term economic growth. Mississippi, Oklahoma and Washington have released state-specific strategic plans that make those tough decisions by focusing their resources on key science & technology (S&T) areas to address the economic impacts of the Great Recession and position the state for future prosperity. Each strategic plan also calls for state government to engage the private sector to build partnerships that will help reduce costs and increase impacts.

Mississippi
Gov. Phil Bryant of Mississippi unveiled a comprehensive plan to capitalize on Mississippi's energy strengths and bring more energy jobs and research to the state. Endowed with diverse energy resources and a strong energy sector, the plan highlights energy-related activities possess tremendous opportunity for job growth and economic development in Mississippi. Developed in partnership with more than 50 private sector energy leaders from inside and outside of the state, Energy Works: Mississippi's Energy Roadmap details opportunities in six key focus areas that will play vital roles in growing Mississippi's energy economy that include:

  • Developing transportation and energy infrastructure to meet growing demand;
  • Increasing energy-focused research and development; and,
  • Meeting the workforce needs of the energy industry.

The report highlights the importance of private-public partnerships in spurring energy related R&D, especially at institutions of higher education. The authors call for the state to encourage and reward public/private funding agreements for energy R&D at state universities. They call for the establishment of a public/private collaborative entity focused on energy technology commercialization. According to the report, the state also should establish new energy workforce development programs focused on STEM education to prepare and train a 21st century workforce that addresses specific needs of the energy industry by working with key industry leaders.

Oklahoma
Gov. Mary Fallon released the OneOklahoma plan to the public that identifies strategies along with actions and resources needed for effective implementation with specific recommendations to enhance STEM and workforce, engage and leverage the foundational sciences and support core S&T industry sectors. Suffering from declines in key S&T indicators in recent years, Gov. Fallon tasked the Science and Technology Council with developing well-defined and measurable goals and provide recommendations to achieve these goals. By 2020, the council concludes, Oklahoma should:

  • Add 53,000 new science and engineering jobs;
  • Achieve 160,000 in total employment by high-technology establishments;
  • Increase annual research and development production to $2.2 billion;
  • Raise annual science and technology commercial business industry output to $7.2 billion; and,
  • Increase science and technology economic productivity to $135,000 per science and engineering job.

To achieve these goals, the report highlights 18 recommendations that are the most effective use of public and private funds that include STEM education reforms, increasing public-private R&D/commercialization partnership and targeting key state clusters such as biotechnology and unmanned aircraft systems. The council estimates the total economic impact to the state would be almost over $4 million should it achieve the aforementioned goals.

Washington
The Washington Economic Development Commission (WEDC) released a draft of its strategic plan to build a world-class innovation ecosystem in the state by strengthening four interrelated pillars — talent and workforce, investment and entrepreneurship, infrastructure and regulations and international business. Reeling from economic effects of the Great Recession, the WEDC calls for a bottom-up approach to economic development driven by private sector jobs and fueled by public-private investment in innovation, new workforce skills, modern infrastructure and exports. The report highlights 15 specific recommendation that include:

  • Prioritizing career and technical education programs at the high school level;
  • Targeting improvements to business regulatory and tax policy;
  • Developing alternative, sustainable financing mechanisms for transportation infrastructure; and,
  • Intensifying innovation collaboration in the Pacific Northwest economic region by supporting cross-border research and development projects.
Mississippi, Oklahoma, Washingtonstrategic plan, state tbed, workforce, capital, entrepreneurship, r&d, policy recommendations, stem, clusters, energy