Chief Business Officer Addresses Joint Business/Labor Committees

Governor Martz’s Chief Business Officer Dave Gibson
addressed a joint meeting of the House and Senate Business and Labor
committees, highlighting the importance of long-term economic strategies to
support better paying jobs and business growth in the state.

These strategies will result in greater wealth for all Montanans and an
increase in the tax base to provide higher quality public services to the
state’s citizens, according to Gibson.

"It is not the role of economic development programs to create jobs," Gibson
said. "The private sector creates jobs. It is the role of this office to
support the private sector to
build a stronger economy."

Gibson testified at the request of the two legislative committees, in
response to proposals that have been put forward to reduce or eliminate the
Office of Economic Opportunity and other important economic development
programs in state and local government.

"Montana has fallen more in per capita income in the past 50 years than any
other state in the Union," Gibson said. "We must turn the tide of the
state’s economy with concerted, focused economic development initiatives."

In researching economic development efforts of other successful states, an
economic development office in the Governor’s office is key to focus those
initiatives for all communities, and to provide information that will
benefit all communities, Gibson said.

Gibson also noted the critical importance of tax reform to economic
development efforts in the state.

"We must create a climate that works for business to grow and expand,"
Gibson said. "The top 25 companies in terms of business equipment tax
revenues also employ 13,000 Montanans and have a combined payroll of $440
million. Increasing their business equipment taxes will hurt Montana

A number of companies and local economic development representatives who
testified also noted that employment and investment will be hurt if the
business equipment tax is increased.

Gibson says that the Office of Economic Opportunity is focused on six key

* Clusters – Clusters are geographically close groups of interconnected
companies and associated institutions in a particular field, linked by
common technologies and skills.

* Technology Transfer – Montana must capitalize on the technologies created
by our research centers and create a system that assists scientists and
entrepreneurs in developing start-up companies.

* Workforce Development – Montana’s success in diversifying its economy will
largely depend on the presence of a highly motivated, strategically educated
workforce with a highly developed capacity for critical and innovative

* Business Climate – Montana’s business climate must be competitive in order
for our economy to provide good paying jobs.

* Research and Development – Relationships between state government, the
Montana University System and the private sector must become stronger for
our economy to improve.

* Business Attraction – The attraction of new businesses into an economy can
quickly increase the tax base, jobs and the diversity of the state economy.

Gibson also highlighted similar efforts in other states. In South Dakota,
for example, their per capita income ranking has gone from 47th to 35th
since 1980. This is due in large part to a focused, statewide economic
development effort, according to industry leaders in South Dakota. South
Dakota’s efforts have raised their per capita income over the last 20 years
from approximately $1,000 below Montana’s to nearly $3,440 above Montana’s.

Ray Trumpower
RR1 Box 1030
Fairview Mt 59221
406-742-5259 (Phone and Fax)
[email protected]

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