Mike Beebe believes that every person in this State who wants a job should have one. And people who have a job should be able to improve their skills if they want to get a better job. In the real world, it all begins with a job. For the man or woman without one, there is no such thing as a bad job.
Every time a job leaves the State, it tears a hole in families and communities. Every time a job goes someplace else, Arkansas dreams and opportunities are deferred or abandoned.
Raised by a single mom on the tips she earned as a waitress, Mike Beebe knows the value of a good-paying job and what it can mean for a family and a community. Jobs are not just work. They're central to a person's identity and sense of self-worth. A good job can be the difference between a dream realized and hopelessness, between a tax payer and a tax burden.
As Governor, Mike Beebe worked to help people expand their opportunities and realize their dreams by making economic development a central concern. In the Beebe administration, economic development is spelled J-O-B-S.
Leading in Times of Adversity
Even as the national economic downturn seized Arkansas, Mike Beebe never lost his focus on creating jobs. He brought in new industries and businesses, and at the same time built on existing ones.
Under Mike Beebe's leadership, roughly 23,000 new jobs have been announced, even in the midst of the national economic decline. And in 2008, Arkansas ranked 46th among states for personal income, the highest in the 50 years the federal government has kept those statistics. As Arkansas Business reported, "Arkansas' per capita personal income in 2008 was $32,397 -- 81 percent of the national average of $40,208. That's a 2.4 percent increase from 2007, while the national average increased only 2 percent." (Arkansas Business, 11/09/09) For 2009, Arkansas's ranking rose again, to 45th, it's highest in history. (Arkansas Democrat Gazette, 3/26/10)
But statistics mean little to a family's breadwinner who's lost a job or a community that's lost its major employer. That's why Mike Beebe focused on a long-term solution: making record investments in education, including technical schools, two-year and four-year institutions to prepare a workforce that attracts jobs of the global economy. Mike Beebe believes that everyone willing to work should be able to go back to school to learn new skills for a better job.
Building on the Relationship between Education and Job Creation
To help foster that relationship, he brought together 1,500 leaders from all 75 Arkansas counties for a first-of-its-kind meeting: the Arkansas Works Summit. The Summit was organized to begin coordinating the investments our communities make in education and economic development, but soon it grew into an ongoing initiative. The effort has already begun to unify the commitment of educators and employers, which will help attract more businesses to Arkansas and give established companies the skilled workforce they need.
Regional and Community Partnerships
In times of adversity, those who work together succeed together. That's why Mike Beebe has worked to organize community and regional partnerships that further economic-development planning through the Arkansas Works Summit initiative. The expansion of the Arkansas Works Summit includes hiring 43 full-time college and career coaches in 21 of the state's most economically challenged counties. The coaches work for community colleges and with high schools and guidance counselors. They advise and prepare students for career exploration, college planning, and enrollment.
Innovative and Aggressive Tools
As Governor, Mike Beebe created the "quick-action closing fund," a fund of as much as $50 million that can be replenished every two years to allow the Governor to close deals and bring new jobs to the State. With this dedicated funding, Governor Beebe can respond rapidly and negotiate in real time to entice new industries and employers to Arkansas while helping to keep struggling businesses open and to grow, rather than having to close their doors.