HOT TOPIC » Job Creation
In South Dakota, corn is now made into ethanol and dry distiller’s grain is made in the same process. Turkeys used to be sent out for processing, but now there’s a processing plant in the state. The state is also courting the firearms industry and is turning an old gold mine in western South Dakota—the deepest in North America—into an underground lab where experiments can be conducted deep into the earth.
Those new areas for jobs naturally fit with the state’s strengths—existing assets just needed a little repositioning, so to speak.
“This national recession will cost jobs—some of which will not come back. And as those jobs are permanently eliminated from the employment opportunities, other types of jobs have to replace them,” said South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds. “It’s a refocusing on what we already have that we can add value to.”
Only then will states move forward into recovery and into prosperity, Rounds said. In fact, that’s Round’s focus as the 2010 president of The Council of State Governments—helping states move forward into prosperity.
Lots of states are desperate for jobs. With unemployment at 9.7 percent nationally for January, states are looking for new and creative ways to attract jobs.
And with many industries hit hard by the recession, attracting jobs may be even more difficult.
“The economy really dictates … how automakers expand. It’s been a rough year for us,” said Wade Newton, spokesman for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, a trade association representing automakers.
With that said, states can still look to the business community for advice on attracting the jobs that are out there—and it isn’t just about incentives, those in the industry say.
“I think that more than any one type of incentive program or plan, what businesses are really looking for is friends,” said Dan Colegrove, senior director of state and local government affairs with Kraft Foods Global Inc.
“Legislators tend to do a fairly good job of reaching out to small business owners and companies that are based in their own states,” Colegrove said. “I would encourage policymakers to remember that large, multi-national corporations like ours also have a lot of advice to offer them.”
Incentives are just “one of several things that we feel like we need to make a major commitment and investment in the state,” said Barbara McDaniel, spokesperson for Toyota Motor Engineering and Manufacturing North America in Erlanger, Ky.
For example, when Toyota was considering its Mississippi plant, which broke ground in 2006, the company wanted to check out the area’s work force, McDaniel said.
So executives visited area employers to get an honest opinion. “The executives were really blown away by how complimentary the management was of the work force,” McDaniel said.
So Toyota chose Mississippi.
But to Rounds’ point, it’s not just about incentives for traditional industries.
“The old, traditional jobs that someone might have been in for 10 or 15 years go away because of the new way to deliver the product, or the old product is no longer necessary. Or, they found a more effective way of delivering the product without as many individuals being involved in the process,” Rounds said.
Here is a glimpse into how states in each region are attracting jobs. The states are hard on the trail in the hunt for jobs.