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Tech Talkin’ Govs part 4: Opportunity Zones, workforce development, tech hubs, and more in governors plans to build economies

January 31, 2019
By: Ellen Marrison

Governors are reaching into their toolkits to build tech-based economies, utilizing Opportunity Zones, tax credits, broadband infrastructure and workforce development initiatives among other things. This week, as we continue to review their state of the state addresses for TBED news, we see some governors still trying to reshape their states’ struggling economies while others are building on past successes and proposing new initiatives.

Arkansas wants to become a technology hub and is proposing a Technology and Innovation Council to help achieve that goal. Delaware is hoping to build on its Angel Investor Tax Credit and utilize Opportunity Zones to spur development. Energy and climate change are on the agendas for many governors, and this week we see it called out by governors in Delaware, Hawaii, New Jersey, New Mexico and New York. Tools for rural development are on the radar in Georgia, while workforce development and education are just part of the plan in New Jersey and New York.

In his Jan. 15 state of the state, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson highlighted his goal of making the state a technology hub:

“… One of my goals for Arkansas is to be a hub of technology companies that will provide new opportunity and diversity to our economy. For that reason, I am calling for the creation of a private sector Technology and Innovation Council. This Innovation Council will bring industry leaders and technology entrepreneurs together to create new energy and support for tomorrow's problem solvers and thought leaders in software design, cyber security, data analytics, blockchain technology, and all those other things that you’re expert in.”

Delaware Gov. John Carney gave his state of the state address on Jan. 15, highlighting a number of TBED tools:

“We also passed the Angel Investor Tax Credit. So we have new incentives to support investment in technology-focused small-businesses that want to create jobs here in Delaware.”

“By the end of next year, we’ve pledged to eliminate broadband deserts in southern Delaware, and provide universal high-speed internet coverage for all Delawareans and businesses.”

“We’re investing in Delaware State University, Delaware Tech, and the University of Delaware, so that we can meet the workforce needs of future employers.”

“As a low-lying state, sea level rise and climate change pose an existential threat to our bay and coastal communities. Despite Washington’s refusal to act, we’ve joined with 16 other states to form the U.S. Climate Alliance. We’ve committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2025 to at least 26 percent below 2005 levels. And we’ve committed to accelerating policies to reduce carbon pollution and promote clean energy.”

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp delivered his first state of the state address on Jan. 17:

“As governor, I will work to ensure that someone’s potential is not determined by their zip code or county. By working with the House Rural Development Council and their colleagues in the Senate, we can expand access to high-speed internet, quality healthcare, and good education.” 

“Through strategic partnerships, we can ensure that every part of our state has access to opportunity – that kids can graduate and raise their families where they were raised, that local companies in Rural Georgia can thrive, that farmers and agribusiness leaders can get their Georgia Grown products to the marketplace, and that every Georgian is equipped with the right tools to succeed.”

Hawaii Gov. David Ige, who is beginning his second term as governor, delivered his address Jan. 22:

“In the last 10 years, Hawaiian Electric Companies have reduced fossil fuel use to generate electricity by 26 percent — that’s 48 million fewer gallons of imported oil a year. The companies have also pioneered technology to integrate more renewable energy into the electrical grid, and delegations from around the world are coming to Hawaii to learn from our experience.”

“In agriculture, we are entering a new age of innovation, one that will bring new jobs and opportunities and decrease our reliance on imported foods….”

“These modern practices will require new skills and a workforce grounded in science- and math-related education.”

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said he planned to give a different address, until he read the audit of New Jersey’s corporate tax incentives, and noted, “this is not a time for business as usual.” He called on legislators to address a “failed status quo and a broken system”:

“The audit revealed bad policy, badly run — a program more likely to have been drawn up in a smoke-filled back room than created for New Jersey’s future. It showed that New Jersey did not implement a serious, strategic plan for creating jobs. It showed a stunning lack of controls to ensure that these tax break programs lived up to their promises.”

“What attracts businesses and creates jobs is a skilled and agile workforce, working modern infrastructure, great public schools, cutting edge research colleges and universities, innovative public-private partnerships, an unmatched location, and a culture that encourages innovation and entrepreneurship.”

“Education, infrastructure, workforce development — those are the primary tools for building a stronger and fairer economy and a stronger and fairer New Jersey. Tax incentives should be used strategically and sparingly to get us to our goal.”

“We need a system that rewards those who invest in their employees through skills development and training, and that cares about growing innovative and promising small and medium-sized companies. We need a program that encourages companies to invest in our communities and our Opportunity Zones.”

“We need this more responsible and sustainable tax-incentive program to work hand-in-hand with the rest of our pro-growth agenda, and to buttress the new startup incentive programs offered by the EDA, which are now welcoming entrepreneurs to our incubators and co-working spaces.

“And, it will work alongside the new Evergreen Innovation Fund, our proposal for partnering with venture capital firms to help grow the next generation of innovative New Jersey companies.”

“The bottom line is that being competitive isn’t a race to give out the biggest tax breaks. It’s about leading the way on education, infrastructure, and diversity and inclusion. Companies want to stay and grow and locate in a state that allows them to flourish and for their workers to prosper in all parts of their lives.”

“We are emerging as a global leader in offshore wind energy, where each dollar of investment will return nearly double to our economy, and where we are working to create thousands of good-paying new, union jobs. The Board of Public Utilities recently closed the first solicitation for potential partners in building an 1,100-megawatt wind farm off our coast — enough energy to power half-a-million homes and businesses. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that realizing our offshore wind-energy potential is much smarter than drilling for oil off the Jersey Shore.”

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham gave her first state of the state on Jan. 16, and highlighted initiatives she supports in economic development, infrastructure and increasing the state’s renewable portfolio standard:

“We have improvements to make to our water systems, our dams, our school buildings, broadband internet in our rural communities — all of these items need our attention, right now.
We have a chance to transform our infrastructure to promote and leverage serious economic development while we address critical community needs. I call on you to work with me in expanding and fast tracking these investments. Infrastructure is the bedrock of our communities and our state. It is the foundation of the diversified economic growth we all envision. We must make these critical investments in safer communities and a stronger economy.”

“… The U.S. Climate Alliance is a bipartisan group of governors who have committed to upholding the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement, and New Mexico will join it. I will sign an executive order committing us to those goals in the very near future. And I will direct each state agency to participate in developing a comprehensive climate plan for New Mexico that responds to the threat of a warming planet by reducing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas pollution.”

“I have committed to increasing our renewable portfolio standard — 50 percent renewable energy by 2030 and 80 percent 10 years after that, and I ask you to fulfill that commitment with me. Not as a ceiling but a starting point….”

In his Jan. 15 address, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo looked forward to the new state Democratic trifecta (when one political party holds the governorship, a majority in the state senate, and a majority in the state house), calling it “a moment in time to change the state.” Key TBED initiatives include:

“We have a $2.5 billion investment to replace infrastructure all across the state, and let's launch the next phase of the Green New Deal mandating 100 percent power by 2040, the fastest in the United States of America, … and lead the way to eliminating our carbon footprint.”

On higher ed: “If you can get in, you're going because there's free tuition to state schools and we're raising that threshold today, this year, to $125,000 family threshold so the middle class families … at $125,000 don't have to worry about how they're going to pay for their kids' tuition because the state will pay for their tuition to a SUNY or a CUNY school.”

“… Also $750 million for the REDCs [Regional Economic Development Councils] which have been doing great work all across the state. … ”

“We'll lead the way with the most aggressive environmental agenda … $2.5 billion in clean water infrastructure.”

“Let us set the goal: 100 percent clean power by 2040. … [A]nd let's get SUNY ESF [State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry] to work with the REDC's to come up with that next little generation of technology and train our workforce for those jobs. Offshore wind has potential, we know it, the industry is moving that way. We want to locate the industry in this state and we want to use it as an alternative. Let's invest $1.5 million, it's a real source for renewable energy, and let's do it this year.”

Arkansas, California, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, New Jersey, New Mexico, New Yorktech talkin govs