Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Community vitality - the Horner plan to create jobs and strong local economies

On July 15, Tom Horner and Jim Mulder, Independence Party candidate for governor and lieutenant governor, respectively, announced the first of three Horner-Mulder proposals to revitalize Minnesota communities. Today's proposal focuses on economic development; in the future, they will bring forward specific proposals on investments in human capital and strengthening local decision-making.

"We can't fix Minnesota's problems if we don't have healthy communities. To revitalize communities, we need to give them the tools and resources to compete,” said Horner. “The proposals offer a balanced approach of state and local investment, planning and support for rebuilding the economic development foundation of Minnesota’s communities.”

According to Minnesota's Labor Market Information office, some 128,000 Minnesotans have lost jobs since 2008. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics; the unemployment and underemployment rate is 7% and 14.2%, respectively. The number of Minnesotans underemployed is 423,713.8, which -- in terms of our Minnesota cities -- is more than the population of Brooklyn Park, Bloomington, Duluth, Rochester, and Plymouth combined.

Just for perspective, the unemployment rate in 2000 was just 3%.

The economy has made it a difficult time for all Minnesotans, and the policies of Democrats and Republicans -- including the budget passed by the 2010 Legislature -- are forcing school districts into four-day school weeks and communities into cutting or eliminating vital services, including public safety. Minnesota needs the next governor to take on the state's big challenges and craft strategies and principles that lead the entire state into the future.

The overall goals of the Horner-Mulder proposal are to invigorate local economies and create a mix of jobs, including good career jobs in cutting edge industries. We will accomplish this through three broad legislative areas:

* Creating Jobs: To spur economic growth, we will propose: funding applied research at the University of Minnesota and other higher education institutions that open doors to new industries; promoting innovation and new technologies that come from our educational institutions and add value to the entire state; and exempting businesses from the state sales tax on capital purchases.

* Improving Infrastructure: The proposal assures that local communities have the infrastructure that businesses need to grow, compete and prosper, especially in the areas of transportation and technology. Examples include expanding the state broadband backbone to ensure that each Minnesota community, business and citizen has access to the next generation’s super highway and moving forward on a strong transportation network that can move product to markets and support worker access to jobs.

* Investing in knowledge: Minnesota needs to be known as the knowledge state, and we achieve this through a trained work force. A vital element of a solid economic development plan is to coordinate state supported education and training programs that meet the needs of expanding businesses in every community.

“As a state we must recognize that for many communities adding one job to a local manufacturer or to the construction a new home, which keeps local carpenters, plumbers and electricians working, is economic development,” Mulder said. “And lasting and thriving economic development calls for forward and independent thinking that brings new types of jobs and technology to people in every corner of the state.”

For more information regarding Horner’s campaign, log on to Horner's website: www.horner2010.com.

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