Remarks by Gov. Jay Nixon on Job-Creation Priorities, St. Louis

July 21, 2011

Thank you, David.

Good morning.

I'd like to thank Sam Fiorello and his team at Donald Danforth Plant Science Center for hosting us today on this dynamic campus.

The bioscience research underway here will be a game-changer in tackling some of the toughest  challenges facing mankind:

  • From feeding a hungry planet.
  • To finding new sources of energy that don't compromise national security or the environment.
  • To improving the productivity and sustainability of agriculture around the world.

And as these breakthroughs move out of the lab and into the marketplace, their commercialization will generate massive new opportunities for job creation in Missouri.

They also hold the promise of making our state a world leader in innovation -- designing, manufacturing and exporting new products and systems on the frontiers of bioscience.

In a broader sense, that's why I'm here today.

We have the opportunity to make transformational change in our state.

I'd like to take the next few minutes to lay out my economic vision for that transformation; outline some of the specific investments we need to make Missouri more competitive tomorrow; and to explain how we will do that in a way that is fiscally responsible, produces the best return on taxpayers'investment.

Of equal importance is how to pay for these investments.

Tax credit reforms have been identified by an expert bipartisan commission that will bring some long-overdue fiscal discipline to these entitlements. That will free up the money we need for smart, strategic investment in job creation, without sacrificing critical needs like educating our children, health care, public safety, and disaster recovery.

We cannot uncouple these major investments from tax credit reform.

This is the moment to leverage our unique Missouri assets and seize unique Missouri opportunities.whose time has come.

We simply can't sit back and wait.

Too much is at stake.

To that end, I intend to call the General Assembly into special session in September.

By working together in a bipartisan fashion, as we have done so successfully in years past, and throughout this process for the past several weeks, we will accomplish this transformational change, building on our strengths.

Missouri is perfectly positioned to leverage our assets: our central location; a workforce that's second-to-none; our bioscience powerhouses; some of the lowest energy costs in the nation; low taxes; and an outstanding quality of life.

We are poised to accelerate the growth of existing businesses, to expand global trade; to fuel innovation and to nurture start-ups.

But first, we must reach consensus on the key components of an economic development plan.

Working with both parties in both chambers, we passed significant jobs packages in 2009 and 2010, while navigating the state budget through some very choppy water. And we balanced the budget again this year without raising taxes and without jeopardizing our spotless Triple A bond rating.

This year, we again worked in a bipartisan fashion with leaders of the General Assembly on a new jobs package that would put more Missourians to work right away, and position us to compete for the best jobs of the 21st Century economy.

 We have not yet crossed the goal line, but we will.

Next week, I will be meeting with the leaders of the House and Senate to chart a course that will put Missourians to work in every part of the Show-Me state - from St. Louis to Kansas City to Joplin and everywhere in between.

Job creation was. is . and continues to be my top priority.

That's why, from the moment I was sworn in as Governor, my focus has been unwavering  . and crystal clear:

Fight every day for every job.

Retrain every worker who needs a new skill to compete.

Support every student who dreams of college and a career.

Help every small business on Main Street..every established business that wants to expand. and compete for every new business that wants to come to Missouri.

That remains my unwavering focus today.

After two years of sharp losses during the nation's worst recession since the Great Depression, we ended 2010 with a net increase in jobs.

This year, we continued to add jobs and we remain on track even as we were hit by a series of devastating natural disasters that have reduced entire communities to rubble. displaced families, destroyed homes and put thousands of folks out of work in 80 counties.

Those costs continue to mount, and could run into the hundreds of millions before they're all tallied up.

But here in Missouri we help folks in their time of need. and we pay our bills on time. So we will pay our share of recovery and rebuilding in Joplin, and in dozens of other communities hard hit by disaster, until they are made whole again.

As we've seen time and again, the worst of times brings out the best in us.

In Missouri, we have a history of putting our differences aside to get things done.

That's a Missouri value that I share. and I practice.

What Thomas Jefferson said is every bit as true today as it was two centuries ago: "Every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle."

I believe in using common sense to find common ground, and working together to build consensus.

The world that most Missourians - and most Americans - live in, was built on common ground.

We're not a nation of extremists and fanatics.

We are one nation under God, indivisible.

We agree on far more than we disagree. That's the reality, not the hyper-partisan shenanigans in Washington D.C.,  and the inflamed rhetoric of TV talk shows.

The easiest way to do politics is to call the other guy a bad name.

That's easy, and it may get you a headline. But it doesn't get anything done. 

Working together? That's much harder

Just look at all the time and energy that's being squandered in our nation's Capitol right now, and compare that to what we're accomplishing in Missouri.

They've got gridlock; we've got goals.

They've got posturing; we've got progress.

And that practical, common-sense, common-ground approach pays real dividends in the real lives of the hard-working people of our state.

Working together in a bipartisan fashion, we have:

  • Held the line on taxes for Missouri families while balancing the budget.
  • Cut taxes for more than 16,000 small business owners.
  • Created a loan program to help our small businesses grow.
  • Frozen college tuition two years in a row.
  • Sharpened state incentives to help employers create jobs.
  • Helped Missouri businesses sell more products overseas.
  • Invested millions in job training programs at Missouri community colleges to create the workforce  of tomorrow.
  • And in a special session last year, we saved the jobs of 4,000 autoworkers at the Ford plant in Claycomo, and the jobs of thousands more hard-working men and women at suppliers and manufacturers in every corner of  the state.
  • And we're not. done. yet.

Now it's time to take the next step in job creation, by creating a new kind of worker.  We need to train workers for our high-tech careers of the future - from advanced manufacturing to clean energy to developing high-yield, drought-resistant crops.

The workers who will compete successfully for the best jobs in the 21st Century economy will be the creative problem-solvers, whose brains, ingenuity and capacity for critical thinking will set them apart.  

We will invest in the high-tech, cutting edge entrepreneurs whose start-ups are the mighty engines of job creation in this country.

Research supported by the Kauffman Foundation shows that companies less than five years old accounted for virtually all the net new jobs over the past three decades in the U.S.

And these nimble, new start-ups are responsible for the lion's share of the innovations that started small, grew fast, and are now integral parts of modern life.

Small opportunities are often the beginning of great enterprises.

It's the little guys ..with big ideas .. who are willing to take risks.. who become entrepreneurs. It's the bold start-ups like those here at the Danforth Center that are making seminal discoveries with tremendous economic potential.

In fact, the building we are in today is a shining example of what can be accomplished when visionary thinking is matched by serious investment in infrastructure, and serious investment in intellectual capital - also known as talent.

One of the fastest-growing sectors of Missouri's economy is science and technology, and this is an area where we can add muscle to existing strength. With 4,000 bio-tech, agribusiness and life science companies, Missouri is a recognized leader in biotechnology and a growing international center of biopharmaceuticals, biomedical research and plant science.

And as we build the future of science and technology in Missouri, it's important to remember a fundamental lesson of U.S. history. Great American innovations ? the light bulb, transistors, magnetic resonance imaging, the Internet - were not the work of men and women who embraced the status quo.

We didn't put a man on the moon by thinking small. A visionary young President, John F. Kennedy, inspired our best and brightest who leaped forward to answer the call to explore space. 

And the race for space had an impact on scientific endeavor every bit as indelible as our astronauts' footprints in the Sea of Tranquility.

The Race for Space sparked tens of thousands of new jobs for American workers, making things that never even existed before.

It gave rise to a revolution in computing and communications. Its legacy of innovation ranges from freeze-drying to advanced materials to the digital signals processing that is the magic behind CAT scans and MRIs.

We need bold vision and competitive spirit again, because we aren't competing against one Cold War arch-enemy: we are competing against the world.  

This September, we will have the opportunity to make a bold leap forward in Missouri.

Here's what we've got to get done.  

First: MOSIRA,  the Missouri Science and Innovation Reinvestment Act.

MOSIRA will create a stable, ongoing source of funding to foster investment and job growth in high-tech and scientific research companies. It will do this by capturing a small percentage of tax revenue generated by employees at new and existing life science companies clustered in St. Louis, Kansas City, and in the booming animal health corridor that extends from St. Joseph to Kansas City to Columbia.

MOSIRA has consistently received strong bipartisan support in the General Assembly.  Furthermore, it is  supported by the business community throughout the state, and is consistent with the Missouri Strategic Initiative for Economic Growth. 

A lot of good work has been put in on this in the past two years.

Let's get it done.

Second: Compete Missouri

My economic development team led by David Kerr met with business and economic development leaders all over the state, and spent the better part of six months last year drafting a blueprint for economic growth.

One key component  of that blueprint was the  "Compete Missouri" initiative. The top business leaders across the state told us we needed to update and upgrade our toolbox of economic incentives.

We needed tools that were sharper, more effective and more user-friendly. So we're cutting through red tape, streamlining processes and meeting the job creators where they are, rather than forcing them to contort their business plans to fit our obsolete economic development regulations.

In Kansas City, we need the tools to compete with other states to make sure good-paying jobs come to Missouri and stay in Missouri.

Every ...major ...economic .development. organization in the state has gone on record to support Compete Missouri.

Let's get it done.

Third: Foreign trade

In an overall economic picture that is slowly and steadily gaining speed, foreign trade is a breakaway success.

Missouri's total exports grew by thirty five percent in 2010, for a total of nearly thirteen billion  dollars. And during the first quarter of 2011, Missouri exports were up an additional 18 percent year over year.

Transportation equipment, chemicals, pharmaceuticals and aerospace top the list, but we're also selling more food and agricultural products from beef to biodiesel to bioengineered seed.

In Asia, currently our top priority for trade expansion, we sell biotechnology to Japan; wood products and Volpi salami to South Korea; soybeans, cotton and corn to China; and beef, poultry and wine to Taiwan.

Here in Missouri we make things. And we're going to keep on making things at the most sophisticated and efficient manufacturing facilities in the nation.

Now we need a better way to get our goods from here to there. We need to take full advantage of our central location by making a substantial investment in bricks and mortar infrastructure in the area around Lambert Field.  If we want to sell more beef to Asia, we need refrigerated warehouses. If we want to sell more pharmaceuticals and aerospace equipment, we need safe and secure transport facilities. 

The creation of a thriving commercial hub in St. Louis would allow us to continue to drive exports through the roof, which in turn drives job creation, profitability and prosperity not just in the St. Louis area, but all across our state.

I am a strong supporter of this initiative, and to do it well we will include transparency, accountability and oversight.

Let's get it done.

Fourth: Data Centers

Just as we need to beef up our bricks and mortar, we must continue to make investments in digital infrastructure.

That's why our Broadband Now initiative continues to serve a critical need in linking businesses in outstate Missouri to customers around the globe. We need to expand our digital networks to support advances in telemedicine, high-speed high-impact communications like the project Google has launched in Kansas City, and data storage.

Let's get it done.

While we are making these critical investments that will allow us to invest in science and technology startups, to expand foreign trade and all the rest, let me remind everyone that we must do all of this in a fiscally responsible way.

Tax credit reform is what will give us the money to invest in the future.

If we don't get tax credit reform, we simply can't afford it.

And as the responsible steward of our taxpayer's hard-earned dollars, I simply will not sign any legislation we can't pay for.

While we are planning for the future we must be mindful of our neighbors in need.

It's been one heck of a year.

At 5:41 p.m. on May 22, the clocks stopped in Joplin, as the worst tornado in our history blew apart neighborhoods, businesses, schools and hospitals.

The losses were staggering: 159 lives lost; thousands of homes and businesses wiped out; and thousands more left homeless.

 That's why, within the last eight weeks, we have deployed every available resource to boost Joplin's recovery and rebuilding, including:

  • $75 million in new economic recovery resources to help businesses rebuild and start hiring again;
  • Close to $20 million for the Missouri Disaster Recovery Jobs Program that will put 500 people to work immediately;
  • $2 million for the Joplin Child Trauma Treatment Center;
  • And just two days ago, $122 million in housing tax credits and incentives for builders, developers and homeowners.

We also must make good on our promise to help the thousands of other Missouri families from the Bootheel to the Iowa border whose lives have been turned inside-out by a string of natural disasters, including:

  • twisters on New year's eve in St. Louis;
  • a record -breaking blizzard that forced the shutdown of Interstate 70;
  • Flooding in the Bootheel that put farms, homes and 130,000 of prime farmland underwater;
  • And continued flooding along more than 500 miles of the Missouri River that is crippling communities from the Iowa border all the way to St. Louis.

These disasters touched virtually the entire state - more than 80 counties -- and will require extraordinary state action to finance emergency and long-term recovery efforts. 

We're still adding up the costs, but it's becoming clear that the bill will be in the hundreds of millions.

As I said earlier, here in Missouri we pay our bills. That too, will be on the table in our  special session.

I am as optimistic as ever that we will do what's necessary to put people back to work, to transform our economy for the future, and to take care of our neighbors in need.

Because we share common values and common goals.

We want the opportunity  to work work worth doing, whether it's building the next generation of fuel-efficient trucks, or growing better soybeans to feed a hungry world.

We want our children to get a first-rate education that prepares them to compete for the best jobs in the global economy.

We want safe, strong communities where Good Samaritans help those in need.

As I said in my State of the State address: We want a vibrant and prosperous economy, where "Made in America" is still the gold standard - whether it's stamped on an F-one-fifty or an F-fifteen.

And we make 'em both with pride in the Show-Me state.

The people of Missouri want jobs.

They want progress.

They want Missouri to win.

Let's get it done.