Bullock to Highlight Economic Development Plan

The plan is the result of 10 months of roundtables, surveys and one-on-one meetings

By Lisa Baumann, Associated Press

HELENA – Gov. Steve Bullock and Lt. Gov. Angela McLean are traveling the state this week to promote the work being done on an economic development plan the Democratic governor released this year.

Bullock and McLean will visit colleges, businesses and cities to discuss workforce training, one of five key areas identified in the Main Street Montana Project. The other four areas include improving the business climate, marketing the state, nurturing emerging industries and building on Montana’s economic foundation.

Bullock will visit Anderson Steel Supply in Great Falls on Tuesday to get an update on a grant that will allow the business to partner with Great Falls College on expanding training programs. McLean will travel to Glendive to discuss workforce employment related to the Bakken oil boom. Bullock will also attend the groundbreaking for a new Missoula College building, among other stops.

“We’ll be talking about the work that is already taking place to ensure we have a workforce that can fill the jobs that are most in demand today, and for years to come, as well as the things that need additional attention,” Bullock said.

The plan is the result of 10 months of roundtables, surveys and one-on-one meetings with thousands of industry, labor, community and governmental leaders across the state. The aim of the plan is to attract businesses, help them grow and to increase wages. Bullock tapped Larry Simkins of the Washington Cos. and Bill Johnstone of D.A. Davidson of the private business sector to help develop the plan.

Montana Senate President Jeff Essmann said Monday that the priority should be getting government out of the way so the economy can grow.

“My perspective is, once you get past the basic infrastructure, government can do far more to limit a business opportunity than foster it,” the Republican said.

He agreed that work to align the educational system with workforce needs as part of the governor’s plan is a goal he supports as long as it can be done in a manner that engages students.

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