Many states are following a new path to economic development—retraining their workforce for jobs of the 21st century. Wisconsin is one of those states. Its Fast Forward Initiative allocates state funds to help companies train new and current employees, administered through a grant application program. Two Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development officials—Deputy Secretary Jonathan Barry and Scott Jansen, administrator of the Division of Employment and Training—will discuss the state’s retraining efforts during an April 21 webinar, “Training for Today: Retraining the Workforce for 21st Century Jobs.” The webinar, presented by Capitol Ideas magazine and CSG’s State Pathways to Prosperity initiative, will begin at 11 a.m. EDT.

Jennifer Burnett, CSG Program Manager, Fiscal and Economic Development Policy, outlines the top five issues for 2014 related to fiscal and economic development policy, including pervasive federal instability, a sluggish recovery, soaring health care costs, a stagnant labor market and new demands on state resources for economic development.

Innovation is the buzzword of this economic recovery: Two-thirds of our gross domestic product growth is attributed to it and jobs in these industries pay 70 percent more than other jobs. Yet politicians have a difficult time pulling away from traditional economic development programs that focus on shovel-ready projects or consumption-driven programs like Cash for Clunkers. Part of this reluctance, I believe, stems from a misunderstanding of what innovation actually is.
 

While the economy has slowly started to rebound and state fiscal positions are getting stronger, high unemployment rates stubbornly remain and state leaders are still struggling to find ways to bring jobs to their states. According to a new Stateline article, states are once again turning to big incentive packages to either retain or lure companies into their states. In addition, states are experimenting with other creative solutions - such as work share - to help usher recovery in to a still-fragile economy.

Stateline Midwest ~ May 2013

At the same time that the nation’s unemployment rate was falling in 2012, entrepreneurial activity was slowing. According to the Kauffman Foundation’s annual Index of Entrepreneurial Activity, an average of 300 per 100,000 Americans started a business in 2012, down from 320 in 2011. This translates into approximately 514,000 new business establishments created each month in 2012, compared to about 543,000 in 2011.

Stateline Midwest ~ March 2012

States in the Midwest were part of a national uptick in venture capital activity in 2011, but the region is still failing to capture its share of investments in high-growth, innovative economic sectors and businesses.

The latest MoneyTree report — conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital...

During the past three decades, states have developed various incentive programs designed to encourage economic activity in order to create, retain or expand business opportunities.  In addition to tax and financial incentives, some states have used customized, company-specific incentives to engage in bidding wars with other states, making interstate competition for industries and businesses increasingly intense. Others have offered incentives to recruit business and financial investment from abroad.

During the past three decades, states have developed various incentive programs designed to encourage economic activity in order to create, retain or expand business opportunities. In addition to tax and financial incentives, some states have used customized, company-specific incentives to engage in bidding wars with other states, making interstate competition for industries and businesses increasingly intense. Others have offered incentives to recruit business and financial investment from abroad.

 

Lawmakers across the Midwest are seeking ways to support and expand existing and new economic development programs. In North Dakota and Michigan, bills recently signed into law will ensure those states’ commitment to technology-based economic growth will continue.

The Great Recession hit rural areas hard as median incomes fell, poverty rates increased and the metropolitan-nonmetropolitan wage gap continued to grow.  In addition, nonmetro areas continue to lose young adults through out-migration, and rural populations are increasingly relying more heavily on transfer payments due to rising medical costs and an aging population.

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