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UPDATE: Nixon outlines economic plan for Missouri

Monday, December 22, 2008 | 4:08 p.m. CST; updated 4:33 p.m. CST, Monday, December 22, 2008

FLORISSANT — Creating new jobs, providing for a more skilled work force and helping small business expand will help Missouri rebound from the sour economy, Gov.-elect Jay Nixon said Monday.

Nixon released details of his Show Me JOBS economic plan during stops in Kansas City and suburban St. Louis, where he spoke on the campus of St. Louis Community College at Florissant Valley.

Nixon, a Democrat, said the plan is part of a bipartisan effort to improve Missouri’s economy. It is aimed at creating new jobs by supporting small business development and providing incentives for worker training and retraining. It also seeks to bring next-generation automotive jobs to Missouri.

Nixon defeated Republican Kenny Hulshof in the November election and takes office Jan. 12.

“The national economic crisis has hit Missouri families extremely hard,” Nixon said. “Jobs are hard to come by.”

Nixon met last week with President-elect Barack Obama, with much of the talk about the economy.

“But we can’t and won’t wait for Washington to act,” Nixon said.

Nixon hopes to pass most or all of his six-point plan early in the coming legislative session.

Other legislative leaders have also called for job creation as a way to help Missourians escape the economic doldrums. Last week, incoming House Speaker Ron Richard, a Republican from Joplin, outlined his own “family recovery plan” that focused on job creation, property taxes and raising the standard of living for Missourians.

And Senate Majority Leader Charlie Shields, a Republican, said the Senate is committed to working with Nixon on job-creating legislation.

Nixon’s plan calls for providing low-interest loans, especially to small businesses, through the Missouri Development Finance Board. Funding would come from the 4 percent fee collected on all MDFB tax credits.

Nixon also wants to expand the Missouri Quality Jobs Program, begun in 2005 under his predecessor, Republican Matt Blunt. Nixon said the program has created jobs with above-average wages and health care benefits.

The plan would create incentives for training that would make employers eligible for tax credits to offset part of the training costs for full-time employees. That training would include tuition at a community college or vocational school. The employer would be reimbursed after the employee reaches the second anniversary with the company.

The Nixon plan also would establish an Automotive Manufacturing Task Force. The economic crisis has hit the auto industry particularly hard and cost thousands of Missourians their jobs at plants in the St. Louis and Kansas City areas. Nixon said the goal of the task force is to prepare the state’s workers to be at the forefront of producing high-tech, fuel-efficient vehicles that could be on the assembly line in 12 to 18 months.

“I really do believe the auto industry has a chance to rebound,” Nixon said.

The current Missouri BUILD Program provides tax credits to help larger businesses expand and create jobs. But under the current program, they must first solicit economic development proposals from other states before becoming eligible for incentives in Missouri. Nixon wants to give the state’s economic development director discretion to waive that requirement on a case-by-case basis.

Nixon’s plan also calls for closer coordination with the federal government, helping to ensure that economic stimulus money comes into the state.

“We want to be the first state to get those dollars and the smartest state to use those dollars,” he said.

 


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