Gov.-elect Nixon announces job-creation plan for the state
This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 22, 2008 - Gov.-elect Jay Nixon announced on Monday programs to create jobs, retrain laid-off workers and set up a task force to help Missouri get its share of the billions of dollars the automobile industry will spend in the future to build high-tech, fuel-efficient cars.
Nixon was uncertain how much money the state would invest in his proposals, and he wasn't sure how many jobs would be created. But he said his goal was twofold: to create jobs immediately and to position Missouri to compete for high-paying manufacturing jobs in the future.
Nixon outlined his "Show Me Jobs" plan during a stop Monday morning in Kansas City, followed by an afternoon visit to an engineering facility at Florissant Valley Community College.
During this holiday season, many Missouri families are thinking less about the holiday than about the economic downturn, said Nixon. "The national economic crisis has hit Missouri families extremely hard. Jobs are hard to come by."
While President-elect Barack Obama's economic stimulus package would help create jobs in Missouri, Nixon said, "We can't and won't sit around to wait for Washington to act. The Show Me Jobs plan is a first step toward getting Missouri back to work." Nixon's plan has four major parts.
- First, low-interest loans for small businesses. The funding would come from the 4 percent fee that the Missouri Development Finance Board collects on all state tax credits, he said. "Small businesses create the majority of new jobs in Missouri, and we must help give them affordable loans so they can hire. We already know what the credit crunch is doing. Small businesses are feeling the crunch. They need our help."
- Second, Nixon said he would seek to expand Missouri's Quality Jobs Program, created during the Blunt administration. Nixon said the program already is creating jobs that offer "above average wages" and health benefits, and deserves to be expanded.
- Third, Nixon promised to make training and re-training a priority to give Missouri workers the knowledge and skills needed by the auto industry and other industries.
- Fourth, as soon as he is sworn in next month, Nixon said he would sign an executive order to set up an automobile manufacturing task force whose mission, among other things, would be to ensure that Missouri's workers and industries are at the "forefront of cutting-edge production that we know is coming."
He noted that Missouri has 3.2 million square feet of auto production space that he said might be a plus because "the auto industry will spend billions of dollars in the coming years making fuel-efficient vehicles. We need to fight to bring those jobs right here."
He said his plans already are enjoying bipartisan support and the backing of Senate Majority Leader Charlie Shields and Speaker-elect Ron Richard.
Nixon said he hoped the Legislature would approve his package early in the next session.