FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 1, 2007
Contact: Don Canton or Don Larson
HOEVEN SIGNS LEGISLATION TO SUPPORT CENTERS OF EXCELLENCE,
GRAND FORKS, N.D. – Gov. John Hoeven today was joined by legislators, business leaders and university officials to sign House Bill 1018, new legislation providing increased funds to address statewide workforce needs and approving $20 million for the Center’s of Excellence program, a cornerstone of the Governor’s economic development agenda. The funding is part of the North Dakota Department of Commerce’s 2007-09 budget.
“Our aggressive economic development efforts are expanding and diversifying our economy, creating jobs and enabling us to do more for the people of North Dakota,” Hoeven said. “This budget funds important tools – like Centers of Excellence, the North Dakota Trade Office, and workforce development – that will continue to grow communities throughout North Dakota as we move into the future.”
Over the past biennium, $20 million in state Centers of Excellence funding has leveraged more than $70 million in additional funding for research and development in agriculture, renewable energy, advanced manufacturing, business technology and other areas that are creating better paying job opportunities for North Dakotans.
Last year, North Dakota’s aggressive economic development efforts produced 7,850 net new jobs, and North Dakota exports grew 27 percent over 2005, to $1.5 billion.
Key initiatives included in the Commerce Budget are:
· $20 million for Centers of Excellence to transform and expand North Dakota’s economy.
· A doubling of the budget for the North Dakota Trade Office to further expand overseas trade.
· One of the most aggressive R&D investment tax credit programs in the nation, offering up to 25 percent of expenditures.
· Increase of the Seed Capital Investment Tax Credit Limit to $3.5 million per year and expansion of the Agricultural Business Investment Tax Credit.
· An increase in funding of $4 million in the North Dakota Development Fund to provide gap financing for business start-ups and expansions.
· State funding for Innovate ND to be matched dollar-for-dollar with privately raised funds.
· Increased funding for the Agriculture Products Utilization Commission.
· More funding for Tourism to market North Dakota as a great place to tour and visit, as well as live and work.
· New Workforce Development initiatives, tied to an $8 million increase in funding, including:
· A comprehensive strategic plan for the state’s workforce system.
· Expansion of Operation Intern – an incentive program to encourage businesses to hire interns from North Dakota universities.
· A career specialist program to help public schools promote North Dakota career opportunities to high school students.
· An Internship Employment Tax Credit
· A Workforce Recruitment Tax Credit for hard-to-fill positions