Governor Tom Vilsack’s in Massachusetts today. Vilsack’s making a presentation at an Innovations in American Government conference at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He’ll also meet with officials from a Massachusetts firm that might — in Vilsack’s terminology — “partner” with Iowa State University and a few Iowa companies on a bio-tech venture. Vilsack says it’s part of an effort to transform the state’s economy. “When we came into office several years ago, there was a need for focus in economic development and workforce development and we have begun that process of focusing on the bioeconomy,” Vilsack says. “Iowa now has a national reputation in the biotechnology area, considered to be one of the six states with a critical mass of biotechnology efforts.” Vilsack has been in office since January of 1999. During Vilsack’s 2002 re-election campaign, his Republican challenger Doug Gross accused Vilsack of ignoring economic development during his first term. After he was inaugurated to a second term, Vilsack hired a new state economic development director and pushed for a half a billion dollar “Iowa Values Fund” to hand out huge state grants to businesses. Michael Blouin, Vilsack’s economic development director, was in Newton last week meeting with Maytag officials. “And we are going to continue to work to improve the climate for manufacturing in this state,” Vilsack says. “We are not going to concede, as other states have, that manufacturing is not a viable alternative for economic development and obviously we continue to expand financial services and insurance.” Vilsack says more college-educated workers are staying in Iowa. The three percent increase in college-trained people in Iowa’s workforce is a trend Vilsack says shows his administration’s economic development efforts are working.
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