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Gov.-elect Hassan promotes initiative to get more people on the job

NASHUA - Gov.-elect Maggie Hassan outlined her Innovate N.H. jobs plan Monday, an initiative she says will allow the state economy to meet 21st century challenges through tax credits, technical assistance and a strengthened work force.

"I know that for New Hampshire to succeed we must prepare our work force for the jobs of the 21st century," said Hassan at the event sponsored by The Telegraph at the Crowne Plaza Hotel.

The plan restores funding to the state university system, which was halved by the outgoing legislature. It also addresses tuition costs while increasing the number of spots for in-state students.

"My plan also recognizes that not every student learns in the same way, and calls for new investments in our community colleges and enhanced job training, so that every person, no matter what stage of their education or of their career, can have an opportunity to learn and contribute to our communities," said Hassan.

Hassan called for a curriculum that allows more people to pursue careers in the STEM fields - science, technology, engineering and math - pledging to support the state's higher education institutions to double the number of STEM graduates by 2025, and increase the commercialization of innovations stemming from the universities.

She emphasized the importance of public-private collaborations to ensure that the state's colleges are providing training to meet changing business needs. They would also boost collaboration between businesses and universities through "strategic research partnerships."

The technical assistance piece of Hassan's plan will provide for trade assistance, part of Hassan's intention to make New Hampshire a leader in exports. She pledged to help Granite State businesses sell their products overseas.

It would also double research and development tax credits to promote innovation in the state. "These efforts will be matched by efforts to make sure that small startups who find success here always will call New Hampshire home," Hassan said, adding that she will work to create incubators near the universities.

Hassan's address was similar in tone to her campaign speeches, which never lacked her pledge against a state income or sales tax. And it's a tone that resonated with many New Hampshire voters - Hassan beat Republican candidate Ovide Lamontagne by 12 percentage points.

The governor-to-be recently launched a statewide Innovate N.H. Tour, including visits to companies and communities.

"I've set up innovation outreach teams that will be soliciting ideas and gathering priorities on key issues from citizens across the state."

She said the tour, which began at UNH in late November, will allow people to provide feedback on her innovation plan as it takes shape.

Hassan praised Nashua's Republican Mayor Donnalee Lozeau, a long-time advocate of extending commuter rail into Nashua, whom Hassan tapped to serve on her Transportation Innovation Team. In addition to Lozeau, the transportation team includes an array of leaders from the private and nonprofit sectors. Other outreach teams tackle issues related to budget, business, health care, North Country Priorities, education and the work force, science and energy, technology, and public safety.

Hassan said the state's progress will require unity, calling for "each and every citizen" to participate in the effort.

She will be sworn in as New Hampshire's 81st governor on Jan. 3.


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