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HOT TOPIC » Job Creation

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The Case for Jobs

Case Study: EAST
Vermont Uses Unspent Stimulus Cash to Create Jobs

What enjoys bipartisan support in Vermont? Dairy farmers.
In fact, the dairy farm industry is just one that will benefit from Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas’ proposed job creation package that uses $8.6 million in unspent federal stimulus money from the state fiscal stabilization fund.
That’s because, “our agricultural industry, especially dairy, is a big part of our heritage, our landscape and our economy,” said David Coriell, the governor’s spokesman.
The package includes:
On top of the recession, dairy farmers have struggled with very low milk prices,” Coriell said. It costs $18 to produce the equivalent of 100 pounds of milk, but that same amount sells for $12, he said. 
“It’s really important that they have help to get through this time,” Coriell said.
The largest part of the bill is the $3.17 million the state wants to spend on broadband Internet in its Backroads Broadband program, according to Coriell. In the governor’s 2007 state of the state address, Douglas set a goal to make Vermont completely wired for Internet—even in the rural places, according to Coriell.
“We’ve made a lot of progress, but there’s still about 15 percent of the state that’s not covered,” he said. “A lot of that is backroads—behind mountains, through tough terrains.”
The Backroads Broadband funding in the jobs package will defray the cost for individuals to set up broadband, Coriell said. This is in addition to other federal rural broadband, he said.

 

Case Study: MIDWEST
Michigan Energizes Jobs with Next-Generation Batteries

With the state’s unemployment rate hovering around 14 percent, Michigan is looking for jobs to jolt it back to life and energize its economy.
Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation think they found it in next-generation lithium ion batteries that can be used in high-tech, energy efficient cars and more.
Part of Michigan’s strategy to attract alternative energy jobs, the battery sector is a natural fit for Michigan—especially considering its association with automobile manufacturing.
Because next generation battery packs are made up of groupings of cells, state officials knew if they could get the cell manufacturers in the state, they’d be well on their way to creating a hub for the specialized technology. 
“We’ve captured cell manufacturing now from six different companies,” said Greg Main, president and CEO of Michigan Economic Development Corporation. “A couple of the companies who have decided to locate in Michigan are providers of materials.”
The state also awarded battery tax incentives worth more than $800 million to four major lithium ion battery cell manufacturers. One of the companies, Johnson Controls-Saft, is in the process of refitting its plant in Holland, Mich., to create more than 1,000 jobs to make the batteries, Main said.
“They’re good jobs too,” Main said. The average weekly wage is $600, he said.
A123 Systems, another company taking advantage of the state’s high-tech battery incentives, is also coming to Michigan and expects to be in production this year, creating 844 direct jobs and 1,373 spinoff jobs, according to Main. A123 Systems expects to make a $626 million investment in the effort, according to Main.
Yet another battery company, Dow-Kokam, will begin construction of new facilities in Midland, Mich., in April or May, Main said. That’s expected to be a nearly $300 million investment.
And all this is coming at a time when Michigan desperately needs new jobs. Main estimates the new battery sector could create as many as 54,000 jobs by 2020.
“It’s been a very big win for us,” Main said. “Is it going to help the unemployment rate? No question about it.”
 

 

Case Study: SOUTH
Florida Hosts Jobs Summit for Business Input

Florida Sen. Mike Haridopolos and Florida Rep. Dean Cannon know their state needs jobs—but they wanted feedback from the business community. So the Senate President and House Speaker held the Florida Jobs Summit in early January.
More than 300 people attended from all types of businesses and “most importantly we were there to listen to folks who are actually in the business world and identify some of the barriers to job creation,” Haridopolos said.
Mostly, the business community is looking for certainty before investments, Haridopolos said.
“There’s just a lot of uncertainty coming out of government, especially out of Washington right now with the health care bill,” he said. “And a lot of employers were just saying ‘look, just have everything stable, don’t do anything radical so as we prepare in these very difficult times, we know that the government is not going to hand out a new tax or a new mandate that’s going to make it more difficult for us to get out of this difficult spot.’”
With that advice, Haridopolos and Cannon hope to boost investment, economic growth and job creation in the Sunshine State. By early February, the Florida Senate took those ideas and unveiled a jobs package.
Haridopolos is also proposing a film and digital media tax credit with House Bill 697.

 

Case Study: WEST
Washington Aims for 40,000 Jobs, Goes Green

Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire has a 10-point plan that could create as many as 40,000 new jobs this year. The centerpiece of the plan is a clean energy business development program to spur energy efficiency projects in the state, starting with the state-owned buildings.
The state will basically provide low-cost financing so state agencies can afford to take on major energy efficiency projects that will take longer to pay back, according to Daniel Malarkey, deputy director of the state’s commerce department.
In order to make the energy-efficient renovations, the state will partner with the private sector to get the job done—and that means immediate jobs, according to Malarkey. The state will leverage the promised energy savings for the loans, he said.
Major energy efficiency investments include replacing the chiller or boiler and could take 20 to 25 years to pay back, Malarkey said. But those bigger energy efficiency projects mean more jobs, he said. We’re “able to employ more engineers, architects and installers and we also get to help stimulate an industry that has real growth prospects,” he said.
“There’s a big net gain from making things more efficient,” Malarkey said.
The plan also includes a tax credit to small businesses who hire new full-time employees. “We are confident that we’ll get the word out and that people will hire people,” said Bill McSherry, Gregoire’s policy adviser on the jobs plan. The one-time tax credit is for the first 15,000 jobs and there would be a $10 million cap on the program—that will last about three years, according to McSherry.
“The small businesses we’ve talked to, they’re hopeful that they’ve seen the bottom, they’re thinking that they might start hiring in the next few moinths,” McSherry said. “They’re looking for something to get them over the hump.”
The tax credit could be just the remedy.
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