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States Outline Competitiveness Goals Ahead of 2012 Sessions

October 26, 2011

With less than three months until the start of the 2012 legislative session for many states, governors and state economic development groups are working to define areas of investment seen as key to their state's competitiveness. In Florida, Gov. Rick Scott unveiled a job creation and growth agenda that prioritizes science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education to produce more graduates for a competitive workforce. Meanwhile, leaders in Mississippi and Virginia issued reports that identify industry sectors most likely to grow their states' economies.

Florida

Gov. Scott offered lawmakers a preview of his upcoming legislative proposals through his 2012 Job Creation and Economic Growth Agenda. Prioritizing STEM education is among his seven major goals for the legislative session. The governor wants to increase the number of graduates in the state with STEM degrees, which right now account for less than 20 percent of the state university system's graduates. Gov. Scott maintains that these graduates are needed to meet future workforce demands and ensure the state's global competitiveness. Although no specific action items are outlined, the governor will support efforts in the upcoming session to encourage the university system to produce more graduates in STEM fields, increase STEM research productivity that can be commercialized and expanded into new economic opportunities, and build strong relationships with the business community to expand services to promote targeted economic growth. The agenda also points to reforms needed in the K-12 system to prepare students for a competitive global workforce.

Mississippi

Promoting a competitiveness agenda for the state ahead of the November election, the Mississippi Economic Council, Momentum Mississippi and the Mississippi Partnership for Economic Development last month unveiled the primary goals and recommendations for Blueprint Mississippi: 2011. The blueprint is focused on four broad foundations, one of which includes technology commercialization. To strengthen and expand Mississippi's economy, the report recommends evaluating industry sectors to determine priority areas, investing in university R&D, developing state-level programs that support rural and minority entrepreneurship, and recognizing and promoting opportunities that result from the growth and expansion of the technology-driven economy. To assist in focusing these efforts, the report recommends engaging the Mississippi Technology Alliance. A final report assigning responsibilities and defining actions and metrics will be released Jan. 5. View the blueprint...

Virginia

Advanced manufacturing, aerospace and life sciences are among sectors most worthy of investment funds, according to a strategic roadmap from The Center for Innovative Technology (CIT). The report identifies industry and research areas most likely to improve the state's economy and serves as a guide for investing funds allocated through initiatives such as the Commonwealth Research Commercialization Fund, which received $6 million in FY12 to provide grants to technology firms, loans to construct wet-labs and for the SBIR matching program. The roadmap also identifies common themes among Virginia's research universities with the goal of mapping university capabilities to industry and research organizations' strengths and priorities. Looking at factors such as external climate, Virginia capabilities, and industry opportunities, the benchmark provides insights into research areas most likely to result in science and technology commercialization. CIT's strategic roadmap is the first of a multi-phase project that culminated from legislation passed during the 2011 session. CIT will update the report every three years.

Florida, Mississippi, Virginiastrategic plan, state tbed, policy recommendations