He entered emphasizing economics. He exited emphasizing economics.
Gov. Dave Heineman has ended his year-long tenure as chair of the National Governors Association, a tenure in which he brought his passion for economic development to a national stage. Heineman presided over the NGA annual meeting in Williamsburg, Virginia this past weekend. Delaware Gov. Jack Markell has succeeded Heineman as NGA chair.
Heineman’s initiative as chair was entitled, “Growing State Economies” which outlines six drivers of growth for states and 12 actions state can take to grow their economies.
“The economy and jobs are the most important issues facing America today,” Heineman told Nebraska reporters during a conference call this morning. “As governors, we owe it to our citizens to focus on policies and practices that allow small businesses to grow and individuals to thrive.”
As part of the initiative, the NGA held four regional economic regional economic development summits during the past year in Hartford, Conn., Nashville, Tenn., Seattle, Wash., and Omaha. Two reports highlight the results of the summits.
Heineman emphasized four of the 12 action steps during his conference call: creating a competitive tax and regulatory environment; putting entrepreneurial activity at the top of the state economic agenda; finding potentially high-growth companies; and rewarding strong ties among universities, companies and entrepreneurs.
Governors are urged to seek companies within their borders ready to grow.
“And one of the things we’re trying to target is, particularly, those companies that really do want to grow, beyond their own borders, beyond their local economy,” according to Heineman. “And those are the ones that go from a few employees to 20, then all of the sudden, to 50 or 60 and then several hundred and, ultimately, a fairly large company.”
Heineman said he enjoyed his term as chair, though he ended it at a time when the presidential campaign is heating up and the two parties continue their bitter spat about healthcare. The NGA attempts to rise above politics and work on shared concerns, but whether provisions in the healthcare law to expand Medicaid amount to an unfunded mandate or an opportunity to extend health insurance to the working poor generally breaks along political lines. Republicans have been resistant. Democrats have, in general, sided with President Obama, a fellow Democrat.
“It was a challenge. It was fun every day. I got to know my colleagues better than ever before. There are a lot of issues where we worked together; we were able to develop a bipartisan consensus. Our work, particularly, with the Air National Guard and the Department of Defense,” Heineman stated. “And then there were other issues, the healthcare debate in particular, where governors have differing opinions.”
The NGA represents 55 states and territories.
AUDIO: Gov. Heineman discusses his tenure as chair of National Governors Association. [2 min.]