Saturday, July 21, 2007

NGA Conference / Update


(AMY LEANG/Detroit Free Press)

From left, Governors Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, Janet Napolitano of Arizona and Jennifer Granholm of Michigan speak during the National Governors Association 2007 Annual Meeting opening news conference at the Great Lakes Campus of Northwestern Michigan College in Traverse City.

Detroit Free Press

Governors' conference kicks off in Traverse City

TRAVERSE CITY -- Nearly 40 of the nation's governors kicked off their summer conference here Saturday, as Gov. Jennifer Granholm welcomed them against a backdrop of Grand Traverse Bay's blue surf and spectacular, sunny weather.

Granholm said the conference theme of innovation and the economy is especially pertinent to Michigan, which leads the nation in unemployment and, she said, is transforming from an auto-dominated economy, yet must retain the auto industry as part of its economic base.

"We know the importance of investing and diversifying an economy," she told reporters on the grounds of Northwestern Michigan College's Great Lakes Campus.

She said governors will discuss, among other things, how to use the creativity of state universities and as magnets for economic growth -- a topic led by NGA chairperson, Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, who joined Granholm at the opening event.

The opening event also drew comments on global climate change. Granholm said while it's important for states to limit carbon dioxide emissions, and said all 2008 presidential candidates should insist that U.S. trade partners agree to limit carbon emissions as well.

"We can do all we want in the Unites States, but if there is no global lessening of emissions out of China, than it is nothing," she said. "We have to have a global policy."

Also attending the press conference were Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, chair of the NGA; Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin III. Ritter said some European nations are looking to U.S.states to take step that will drive this nation's debate on global warming.

Thirty-five governors were expected to attend the conference at the Grand Traverse Resort.

They were to hear presentations Saturday by Google chairman and CEO Eric Schmidt, and Randall Stephenson, chairman and CEO of AT&T, on the topic of innovation and the economy.

Granholm used the occasion to tout her economic plan to diversify the state's economy using money from the new 21st Century Jobs fund to attract high-tech, innovative industries, and new, tougher high school curriculum standards.

Napolitano said states should focus more on higher education and producing products that no other countries produce and market.

"What do we need to do as governors, state by state, to make sure the next generation is fully prepared for the globalization of the 21st Century?" she said."How do we make the U.S.a place were jobs are in-sourced, not out-sourced, as a result of our mental capital?"

She added, "Governors have a key role."

Copyright © 2007 Detroit Free Press Inc.

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