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Grants for science and tech growth

Published (1/21/2011)
By Lee Ann Schutz
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The first bill to get a hearing in the House Taxes Committee is a continuation of a proposal that got the go-ahead last year.

Sponsored by Rep. Tim Mahoney (DFL-St. Paul), HF102 fulfilled a tradition of Committee Chairman Greg Davids (R-Preston) of hearing a bill from the minority party first. No action was taken Jan. 18. It has no Senate companion.

Last year the Legislature established the Minnesota Science and Technology Authority to help create more science and technology jobs to help the state compete against states with similar economic indicators. Mahoney’s bill would create a vehicle of support to fund grants and loans for science and technology businesses and for research by Minnesota institutions of higher learning and nonprofit research organizations. Priority would be given to proposals that promote collaboration with private businesses; attract new research entities, talent or resources; and attract researchers and resources from outside Minnesota.

The bill would establish a dedicated fund with annual revenues of up to $25 million from growth in Minnesota state income tax withholding on employees from a specified sector of businesses. The grant program would sunset in June 2018.

Mahoney said Minnesota is falling behind when it comes to jobs in the science and technology sector.

“This isn’t just state versus state. We are competing with other countries,” he said. “Frankly in our peer states, we are at the lower end of the tier in terms of investing in our own economy. We all believe that we are a huge medical-based and science-based economy. Our job growth was 1.2 percent below what it was in previous years, while the average growth in our peer states was 2 percent. … We can’t sustain that for very long before we are not a player.”

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