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Tech Talkin’ Govs, Part II: CO, GA, SC, VA, WA, WY focus on tech needs, education, more

January 19, 2017

More governors delivered their state of the state addresses and this week we bring you TBED news from governors around the country. Areas of focus include tech infrastructure needs, diversifying economies, cybersecurity and education. While some governors are giving their inaugural addresses, Gov. Nikki Haley used her time to bid farewell. Following are excerpts from the past week’s addresses.


Gov. John Hickenlooper gave his annual state of the state address last Thursday, focusing on infrastructure needs – notably roads, but also tech needs:

“We need a comprehensive focus on infrastructure that supports not just transportation, but also broadband, education, healthcare, and our environment.

 “Today, I’m announcing the creation of a broadband office to help us get from 70% to 85% coverage by the time we leave office and 100% by 2020.

“We need to include pathways not just to four-year degrees but also to technical training and skills certificates for the many jobs in Colorado that require advanced skills like cybersecurity training. … If we do this right, there should be an opportunity for thousands of Coloradans to acquire skills either in classrooms or on the job that are career-focused and transferrable to different industries in the future. In the last 18 months, foundations, corporations and the federal government have joined our cause and provided more than $15 million in grants to fund innovative public-private partnerships like Skillful and CareerWise Colorado, helping students and job seekers develop new skills for new careers.

 “We can’t wave a magic wand to diversify the economy throughout the state, but if we work together, we can support growth in any community that wants it. We’re asking to establish a point person on the ground for rural economic development issues to expedite and speed resources to communities that need them…

“Some may think job training and rural incentives aren’t glamorous--and there certainly aren’t legions of lobbyists for the thousands who are unemployed or underemployed--but it’s how we build on our momentum...and engage the rural economies at the same time.

“We’re also using technology to make life easier for our customers--we’ve hired the country’s first digital transformation officer, and later this year we’ll be combining a number of services across multiple agencies into a single, easy to use app.”


In Georgia, Gov. Nathan Deal played on lines from a song and focused on ways to “‘accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative’”:

“Fort Gordon is already home to the Cyber Center of Excellence, a training facility for cyberspace operations. And soon, we will begin construction on another tool in our arsenal for security and economic development in the form of the Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center.

“My proposed budget includes $50 million for this state-owned facility, designed to promote modernization in cybersecurity technology for both private and public industries. … We will work together to ensure that this facility is an effective education and training center from which all manner of state, local and private organizations can benefit. This initiative will be housed within our Georgia Technology Authority and will, in part, serve as an incubator for startup companies, adding yet another tool for the Department of Economic Development to attract businesses to Georgia. We will also focus on research and development, tapping into the assets of our research universities and other institutions of higher learning.

“Finally, we will create a cybercrime lab run by GBI [Georgia Bureau of Investigation] as we work with all state agencies and local governments to ensure that our citizens, employers and their digital information are protected.”

South Carolina

Gov. Nikki Haley, while celebrating the Clemson Tigers winning the national championship, gave her seventh and final state of the state address on Jan. 11, which she used largely as a farewell address as she awaited confirmation hearings on becoming the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations:

“With South Carolina’s economy booming and new jobs springing up all across the state, we have to be able to produce a workforce that can fill them. If we don’t, if companies cannot find the talent they need to be successful in South Carolina, they will go somewhere that they can.

“Schools in rural and high-poverty areas couldn’t afford the technology necessary for a 21st Century education, so we found a way to provide it to them.”


In Virginia, Gov. Terry McAuliffe delivered the state of the Commonwealth address that stressed less reliance on federal spending, and a more diversified economy in Virginia:

“We needed to build a new Virginia economy that would grow and create opportunity no matter what happens in Washington, Beijing, or anywhere else in the world. We needed to redouble our focus on economic development and make Virginia more attractive to job creators in sectors like cyber security, bioscience, data analytics, advanced manufacturing, and autonomous vehicles. We needed to align every public system, from transportation to public education to workforce development, with the needs of a 21st Century economy.

 “Over several sessions we have reformed Virginia’s workforce development system and incentivized institutions and students to complete degrees and credentials in high-demand industries. And this work comes at a critical time. Virginia is unique – our problem is not that we don’t have high-paying jobs available – it’s that we don’t have the trained workers to fill those jobs. Last year, Virginia saw 149,000 jobs open in the technology sector alone. And we have 36,000 jobs open today in cyber security. Parents – listen to me. The average starting pay for these jobs is $88,000. Our mission is to prepare students with the skill sets to fill these jobs so they can lead our economy into the future. 

“We ensured a bright future for private spaceflight in Virginia by strengthening the MARS Spaceport. We leapt from the back of the pack on cyber security, bioscience, autonomous vehicles, and renewable energy to become a national leader in these cutting edge industries.

“We all agree that technology provides us with the opportunity to offer high-quality education to students who are unable to attend school in a traditional setting. This year I am proposing to offer full-time, high-quality virtual learning to every Virginia student. I am also proposing several pieces of legislation aimed at helping Virginians access student financial aid and pay those loans off as quickly and easily as possible.

“I am also proposing legislation that will give Virginia’s institutions of higher education the authority to restructure financial aid to incentivize students to complete degrees within four years.

“Since it was created nearly 22 years ago, the Virginia Economic Development Partnership has served as our Commonwealth’s primary economic development driver. There are many hard-working men and women at VEDP, but, as a recent JLARC report identified, the organization is in need of stronger management and accountability. Reforming VEDP should not be a partisan issue. Its problems have persisted over the terms of five previous Governors and 21 General Assembly sessions. I am ready to work with you to ensure that Virginia’s economic development infrastructure is delivering the return on investment that taxpayers have a right to expect.”


In his second inaugural address, Gov. Jay Inslee stressed funding for K-12 education:

“We are going to stop telling our children that a four-year degree is the only path to success. It’s time we recognize the dreams of those who want to build beautiful boats as a welder, or assemble aircraft as a machinist, or help cure diseases as a global health specialist. And that’s why I propose more funding for these and other career-connected opportunities from elementary school through high school graduation. It works.”


Gov. Matt Mead delivered his state of the state address before a joint session of the Wyoming state legislature on Jan. 11:

“At the University of Wyoming, in addition to new facilities…we opened the Enzi STEM facility in March 2016, and the High Bay Research Facility is opening soon.

“We are proud of the new facilities at the University of Wyoming which will strengthen Wyoming’s representation as a leader in education, technology and innovation.

“The Wyoming firearms industry, an important component of manufacturing, continues to grow.

“…[T]echnology continues to emerge as a viable economic sector. I truly believe it can be our fourth largest sector, and we must continue to build upon it.

“We not only want to be the energy state in terms of production, we want to be the energy state in terms of innovation, and we can be. The carbon initiative looks at building an industry around CO2. This means investing in advanced energy technologies and innovation. … The relationships we fostered with ZPrize has now put together a $10 million prize for the team that can figure out how to capture that CO2, but not only capture it but use it to make it a useful product.

“As I mentioned earlier, we have been investing in STEM [at the] University of Wyoming. These efforts are critical. We need to continue to invest in the science initiative, thus the supplemental [$500,000] request.

“Until we can get a broader, more comprehensive tax structure, I ask you to consider continuing the Manufacturing Tax Exemption, which is sunsetting. It’s important for the business that are here, it’s important for some of the businesses we are trying to recruit now.”

Colorado, Georgia, South Carolina, Virginia, Washington, Wyomingtech talkin govs