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Tech Talkin’ Govs, part 8: education, workforce, climate action and rural initiatives focus of innovation efforts

March 07, 2019
By: Ellen Marrison

This week we nearly finish our state of the state coverage, save two remaining governors (Louisiana and Minnesota) who have yet to present their addresses. In reviewing the speeches for news on innovation efforts, we find education taking the main stage in Florida and Tennessee, while Alabama and Ohio’s governors are hoping to build the state’s workforce, and North Carolina, still recovering from natural disasters, wants to decrease greenhouse gas emissions and provide tuition assistance for community college. Many governors are presenting separate budget addresses, and we will continue to monitor those for news on innovation initiatives.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, in a state reeling from catastrophic tornado damage this week, focused on rebuilding and growing the state economy, in part through technology activities, as well as educational efforts:

“As we anticipate the rising demand of the computer science field, we are continuing our efforts to enhance computer science education in Alabama. Last year, I signed legislation establishing the Alabama School of Cyber Technology and Engineering. We also secured additional funding to create the Alabama Math and Science Teacher Education Program, which provides a better pathway to certify future computer science teachers.”

“Part of my mission for the state, is to carve a path for our students to enter the workforce, highly-skilled and well-equipped. To further our efforts, I am asking the Legislature to fund our new co-op program for Alabama’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities. It is geared specifically toward Alabama’s HBCU students interested in pursuing careers in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields. It is not only a win for these students; it’s a win for these colleges and universities. And it’s a win for our employers who are gaining qualified individuals to strengthen the work of their company.”

“In our efforts to meet the current and future needs of business and industry, I have established the Governor’s Office of Education and Workforce Transformation. The focus will be solely on aligning our workforce development funding streams to create the most effective workforce development programs for Alabamians across the state.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, delivering his first state of the state address, said the state has a “unique opportunity” to advance needed reforms in different areas, one of which was education, and he reviewed the action already taken in the past 60 days, including appointing a Chief Science Officer to better harness scientific data and research in service of Florida’s most pressing environmental needs, and more:

“Announcing far-reaching education reforms designed to make Florida No. 1 in skills-based education by 2030.”

“… [W]e will do even more to build a world-class talent pool. We are poised for growth in finance, technology, health care, aerospace and more --- let’s support the continued ascent of our universities so that these industries can grow by employing our own graduates in good, high-paying jobs in our low-tax, business-friendly environment.”

“… I have proposed a plan to take Florida from middle of the pack to No. 1 in workforce education by 2030.”

“Our workforce education initiatives include grants to place students in apprenticeships, money to train teachers in computer science and funds for workforce programs within our state college system.”

“…I’m proposing to eliminate the [scholarship] waitlist by creating a new Equal Opportunity Scholarship that is similar to the tax credit scholarship.”

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper focused on recovering from hurricane Florence and tropical storm Michael in his Feb. 25 state of the state address, while also meeting other challenges facing the state, including education and increased opportunities for those in the state’s cities and rural communities. Cooper also noted that violent weather has threatened every corner of the state and that scientists agree climate change is making storms more fierce. He called for more action:

“In October, I signed an executive order to reduce our state’s greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent by 2025. This won’t just help in the fight against climate change — it will boost our economy by creating more clean energy jobs.”

“Just last week, leaders from all over North Carolina, including this legislature, endorsed the goal for 2 million more North Carolinians to have a post-secondary degree or credential by the year 2030. But people need education in order for us to get there. … Last year, I pushed for an effort to provide tuition-free community college for high-demand jobs. This can help us meet our goal.”

“I’m asking you to join me in an expansive effort to complete rural broadband projects. We can leverage public/private partnerships to bridge the digital divide and connect all parts of our state to opportunity.”

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine also delivered his first state of the state address, saying it was time to “invest in Ohio,” and the state’s future:

“We will focus on bringing jobs and job training to the communities and to the people who have been left behind. Our administration will focus on knocking down the barriers that stand in the way of a better life, and we will focus on creative, new strategies to restore hope and to restore opportunity. ... We are going to help businesses in Ohio through enhanced opportunity zones. And, we are going to help Ohio college students by having every one of our public universities offer guaranteed tuition — that won’t increase one dime — over the four years the student is in college.”

“For those who take another career path, we are going to embark on the most aggressive workforce development and worker re-training effort in Ohio history! We’re going to invest more in our career-tech centers and two-year community colleges, and we are going to create at least 10,000 new industry certificates.”

“InnovateOhio will take a leading role in technology projects across the state. It will coordinate projects across our administration to use data to change the way we solve problems. Already, InnovateOhio is working to better collect and use data across agencies in important areas involving the opioid crisis, workforce development, and children’s initiatives.”

“… [W]e will create a new fund, called the “H2-Ohio Fund,” to invest in targeted solutions to ensure safe and clean water all across the State of Ohio.”

In his first state of the state address, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee focused on giving more educational opportunities and investments to boost the workforce and economy of the state, with a particular focus on the tech sector:

“… Tennessee must deliver a world-class education and that education must be aligned with the needs of the job creators of today and tomorrow. … When companies like Google, Apple, and IBM no longer require a college degree for many high-skilled jobs, we know we need to think differently about how we approach preparing our kids for careers. Elementary and middle schools need to begin skills training earlier and, from top to bottom, high school needs to look a lot different.

“In that spirit, I'm proposing the Governor's Investment in Vocational Education — the GIVE Act. The GIVE Act is a $25 million investment to increase the number of young adults earning an industry certification and entering a career within one year of high school graduation.

“Another one of our goals is to put Tennessee in the top half of states for technology sector job creation by 2022. To that end, I recently announced the Future Workforce Initiative, a $4 million effort to increase science, technology, engineering and mathematics — STEM — training in K-12 schools. The Future Workforce Initiative will add 100 new CTE programs, grow the number of teachers qualified to teach work-based learning and computer science classes, and expand access to AP courses and early postsecondary options for high schoolers.”

“We will also invest more than $12 million dollars in financial aid to add nearly 7,000 students in need to those we help attend college or obtain a certificate here in Tennessee.”

Alabama, Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennesseetech talkin govs